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ENDANGERED: Antarctica

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Ice has been an integral element to this planet since its beginnings. The melting of the ice caps was one of the first issues that was brought to the public's attention as a result of climate change. But just how much will its depletion affect the rest of the globe?

Antarctica

Image Credit: girlart39 via Pixabay

In 2018 The Guardian reported on a study that revealed the underwater melting of Antarctic ice was far greater than thought.

A separate study also warned that unless urgent action is taken in the next decade melting ice could add more than 25cm to a total global sea level rise of more than a metre by 2070.

The overwhelming effects of rising sea levels are already being felt in countries  that have low lying lands, such as Bangladesh.

Floodwaters surrounding houses in Dakha, Bangladesh

Floodwaters surrounding houses in Dakha, Bangladesh/ Image Credit: CAPRA Initiative via Flickr

The flood waters destroy lives, homes and crops. Just a week ago, it was reported that floods had forced more than four million people from their homes across India, Nepal and Bangladesh and killed more than 100 people.

With the continued melting of Antarctica, these figures will only increase and will become even more devastating than they are now. The average annual temperature has increased by nearly 3'C in the region in the last 50 years.

However, it's not just increased temperatures that are causing this rapid melting of the ice. Other factors include ocean acidification and loss of sea ice, all linked to global levels of carbon dioxide. As a result, 87% of the continent's land-bound glaciers are in retreat.

A penguin in Antarctica stretched out in the sun

Image Credit: Andreas Kambanis via Flickr

The continent's ecosystem is also suffering as a result. According to the Huffington Post, species such as the Adelie penguin as suffering from the damage and changes to their environment. Since 1975, populations of the penguin have decreased by 80%. This is largely due to a decrease in their main food source, krill, which breed under the ice sheets so have obviously depleted. 

As with many effects of climate change, the melting of the Antarctic doesn't seem to be high on our government's list of priorities. We must keep pressure on our leaders to stand up and take action.

Lead Image Credit: Liam Quinn via Wikimedia Commons




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