Melting ice in Antarctica near the point of no return

Antarctica ice melting near the point of no return, due to the climate crisis. Sea ice loss is progressing faster than forecast and threatens wildlife

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Melting ice in Antarctica near the point of no return

Antarctica ice melting near the point of no return, due to the climate crisis. Sea ice loss is progressing faster than forecast and threatens wildlife. The report just published by the research institute on the impact of climate change in Potsdam says the melting of Antarctica's glaciers is not yet an irreversible phenomenon, but it could become one shortly, in the absence of concrete and timely actions.

Norman Ratcliffe, of the British Antarctic Survey, explained: "An area ten times the size of the United Kingdom. This is a huge negative anomaly that we have never observed on this scale in the monitoring period of the last 45 years." It could take hundreds to thousands of years for the Antarctic ecosystem to completely collapse.

But the repercussions of the event, such as the rise of sea levels by up to many metres, could last up to ten thousand years.

Melting ice in Antarctica near the point of no return

Melting ice is already having devastating effects on Antarctic fauna, particularly on the reproduction of emperor penguins.

Between November and December 2022, more than 9,000 young emperor penguins growing up on the Bellingshausen Sea ice shelf off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula died as the sea ice broke up and melted earlier than usual.

Martin Siegert, professor at Imperial College London, explained: "Now, if we don't want these things to happen again in the future, we really need to proceed with decarbonisation. This will not solve the problem, it will still be necessary to develop an adaptation strategy to the phenomenon." Not yet beyond the point of no return, but dangerously close.

This is in summary the conclusion of the report just published by the research institute on the impact of climate change in Potsdam. Except for some very limited areas, Antarctica is completely covered by the Antarctic ice sheet, with an average thickness of 1600 meters; Furthermore, the Antarctic sea ice extends around the entire continent.

Antarctica therefore has 98% of its territory covered by ice and this makes it the coldest and most inhospitable continent on the planet: it is the only one where there are no permanent inhabitants.