Antarctica threatened by extreme weather events

According to a study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science by an international team of 14 scientists, extreme climatic events in Antarctica are destined to become increasingly frequent and intense

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Antarctica threatened by extreme weather events

According to a study published in Frontiers in Environmental Science by an international team of 14 scientists, extreme climatic events in Antarctica are destined to become increasingly frequent and intense, regardless of whether or not the Paris climate agreement is respected to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The study looked at extreme events in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, such as ice sheet collapse, sea ice loss, heat waves and sea level rise.

Antarctica threatened by extreme weather events

The researchers explain that Antarctica's ecosystems could be subject to significant stress and damage in the coming years and decades, and for this experts are calling for urgent political action to protect them: "Change in Antarctica has global implications.

Reducing to zero the greenhouse gas emissions is our best hope of preserving Antarctica. UK, USA, India and China, if they continue to explore, mine and burn fossil fuels anywhere in the world, Antarctica's environment will always suffer more in spite of the commitments made.

The consequences of climate change seem to make headlines almost every day now: we have recently seen incredibly high temperatures in southern Europe and wildfires in Canada, for example. One might think that the Antarctica's huge remote continent with its kilometre-thick ice cap could withstand the extremes of climate change, but it doesn't.

For example, the 2022 temperature reached a staggering 38.5 degrees above average in East Antarctica. We are now seeing sea ice extent around the continent at an all-time low for this time of year. This is worrying because much more winter sea ice is expected to form.

The feedback loops involved in the climate system are very complex and we still have a lot to learn. Earth-orbiting satellites such as Copernicus' Sentinel-1, the European Space Agency's CryoSat, and missions to be launched in the future, are vital to measuring and monitoring this remote part of our world."