New Antarctic extremes ‘just about sure’ as world warms

Penguins and a seal on the Antarctic Peninsula. Credit score: Prof Anna E. Hogg, College of Leeds

Researchers predict that excessive occasions in Antarctica, similar to ocean warmth waves and ice loss, will undoubtedly turn into extra frequent and extreme resulting from world warming and local weather change.

The urgency to take decisive motion to restrict world warming to the Paris Settlement goal of 1.5°C is emphasised by the scientists, warning that latest excessive occasions in Antarctica could solely be the start.

The examine totally examines the proof of utmost occasions in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, together with climate patterns, sea ice ranges, ocean temperatures, glacier and ice shelf programs, in addition to biodiversity on land and sea.

The conclusion drawn is that the fragile environments of Antarctica are at nice threat of stress and injury within the coming years and a long time, necessitating speedy coverage motion to guard them.

Lead writer Professor Martin Siegert, from the College of Exeter, asserts, “Antarctic change has world implications. Lowering greenhouse fuel emissions to internet zero is our greatest hope of preserving Antarctica, and this duty extends to each nation and particular person on the planet.”

Professor Siegert additional warns that the speedy adjustments occurring in Antarctica could put many nations in violation of the Antarctic Treaty, a world settlement geared toward preserving the surroundings of this distant and fragile area.

“Nations should acknowledge that by persevering with to discover, extract, and burn fossil fuels wherever on the planet, the surroundings of Antarctica will undergo more and more in methods inconsistent with their pledge,” he states.

The researchers assess the vulnerability of Antarctica to numerous excessive occasions with a view to perceive their causes and anticipate future adjustments primarily based on latest occurrences.

As an illustration, 2022 noticed the world’s largest recorded warmth wave in East Antarctica, with temperatures reaching 38.5°C above common. Moreover, winter sea ice formation is at the moment at its lowest degree on file.

Excessive occasions additionally affect biodiversity, as evidenced by the correlation between excessive temperatures and decreased krill populations, leading to breeding failures amongst krill-dependent predators, such because the prevalence of many useless fur seal pups on seashores.

Co-author Professor Anna Hogg, from the College of Leeds, feedback, “Our findings show that whereas excessive occasions are generally related to heavy rainfall, flooding, warmth waves, and wildfires occurring in varied elements of the world, in addition they have a profound affect on distant polar areas like Antarctica.”

“Antarctic glaciers, sea ice, and pure ecosystems are all susceptible to excessive occasions, making the implementation of worldwide treaties and insurance policies important to guard these lovely but delicate areas,” she provides.

Dr. Caroline Holmes, a sea ice professional on the British Antarctic Survey, highlights the numerous consideration obtained by Antarctic sea ice in latest weeks, whereas additionally declaring the alarming development of file highs adopted by file lows since 2017.

“Moreover, there are interconnected relationships between excessive occasions throughout totally different elements of the Antarctic’s bodily and organic programs, virtually all of that are prone to human affect,” Dr. Holmes explains.

The retreating Antarctic sea ice will open up new areas for delivery, necessitating cautious administration to safeguard susceptible websites.

Common monitoring of the whole Antarctic area and Southern Ocean is made potential by the European House Company and European Fee Copernicus Sentinel satellites.

This knowledge facilitates the measurement of ice pace, sea ice thickness, and ice loss at an distinctive degree of element.

The analysis paper is revealed within the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science.

Extra info:
Martin Siegert et al, Antarctic Excessive Occasions, Frontiers in Environmental Science (2023). DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2023.1229283

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College of Exeter

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New Antarctic extremes ‘just about sure’ as world warms (2023, August 8)
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