When you think of Antarctica, freezing temperatures, untouched land and fluffy penguins fishing and generally having a great time often come to mind. In reality, the ocean is full of plastic waste, the penguins are starving and temperatures are reaching record highs: 20.75 degrees Celsius to be exact. FYI, that’s warmer than Dubai this weekend.
Here's my version of a #Sentinel1 animation of three Pine Island Glacier calving events including the latest one on 9th February. Download a bigger version here: https://t.co/eHwRGFhoLs pic.twitter.com/xOsPeTBDYz— Adrian Luckman (@adrian_luckman) February 11, 2020
Unfortunately, since 2015 the temperature record has been broken three times (two of those times being in the last week), and the average temperature of the now fastest-warming region on Earth has risen by 4 degrees over the last 50 years, while 87 per cent of Antarctica's glaciers have retreated. Antarctica’s unique ecosystem means it’s more sensitive than other areas and therefore can act as a warning system for the rest of the planet. In short: when Antarctica shows signs of trouble, something truly terrible is on the horizon.
I annotated some of the new icebergs from the Pine Island Glacier with names of cities or countries which are about the same area. Most of us never had the chance to see some icebergs in real life, their size is sometimes hard to grasp.
Download https://t.co/69hIOhuJwL pic.twitter.com/GWqWkO6gm3— Erwan Rivault (@ErwanRivault) February 12, 2020
If it continues, the consequences will be disastrous – high temperatures means more breakage, which not only diminishes the coastline but causes the sea level to rise due to glaciers weighing over a billion tonnes collapsing into the sea. The figures are truly frightening: if all the land ice melted, the sea level would rise by a whopping 230 feet. Perhaps those ridiculous disaster movies aren’t as farfetched as we thought. The temperature increase is also affecting precious wildlife. Krill, a primary food source for penguins, seals and whales, are relocating to cooler waters outside of reach, meaning animals are left without a reliable option.
These glaciers and ice sheets have covered Antarctica for over a million years and we’ve managed to destroy them in the short time we’ve inhabited the planet. While we can’t reverse the damage we’ve done, it’s time to take action to ensure we don’t let it get any worse - unless you want to end up underwater.
Photos: Unplash, twitter and Instagram