Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Antarctica ice melt speeding up

Kate Gudsell, Environment & Conservation Reporter

Antarctica has lost about three trillion tonnes of ice since 1992 and scientists say the window of opportunity to prevent major meltdown of the icesheets is narrowing.

The ice loss corresponds to a sea level rise of around 8mm, according to a major climate assessment known as the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise, published in the journal Nature.

The findings show that before 2012, Antarctica lost ice at a steady rate of 76 billion tonnes per year - a 0.2mm per year contribution to sea level rise. However, since then there has been a sharp, threefold increase.

Between 2012 and 2017 the continent lost 219 billion tonnes of ice per year - a 0.6mm per year sea level contribution.

The ice sheets of Antarctica hold enough water to raise global sea level by 58 metres and knowing how much ice it is losing is key to understanding the impacts of climate change today and in the future, according to the assessment.

Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds, who leads the Ice sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (Imbie), said it had long been suspecting changes in Earth's climate would affect the polar ice sheets.

"According to our analysis, there has been a step increase in ice losses from Antarctica during the past decade, and the continent is causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years. This has to be a concern for the governments we trust to protect our coastal cities and communities."

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format or in OGG format.

Another study, also published in Nature, explores how Antarctica and the Southern Ocean will change over the next 50 years, and what impact the changes will have on the rest of the globe.

It considers the future if emissions continue to rise unchecked, and one where strong action is taken to limit emissions and manage human activity on Antarctica.

It predicts that if emissions remain high, by 2070 major ice shelves will have collapsed, sea level rise will have accelerated to rates not seen in 20,000 years, and ocean acidification and over-fishing will have altered Southern Ocean ecosystems. The Antarctic environment will have degraded from the failure to manage increased human pressures on the continent.

However, if emission were low, the ice shelves would remain intact, Antarctica would make a small contribution to sea level rise, and the continent would remain a "natural reserve, dedicated to peace and science" as agreed by Antarctic nations in the late 20th century.

Professor Tim Naish from the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University said the good news is there was still time to prevent major meltdown of the icesheets, but that timeframe is short.

He said emissions would have to peak in the next decade, then reduce to zero before the end of the century.

"Urgent action is needed. Put simply if we cannot collectively tackle climate change, then it's unlikely we will maintain Antarctica as a place for peace, nature and science."


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Joseph Cederwall: On Why the News Crisis Gives Us Hope

Scoop has exciting plans ahead for 2018 and beyond. The news media industry is coming to a critical juncture point. However, in all this crisis we see opportunity to create a new, more resilient and more decentralised future for independent news media... More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Turns 19: Once More Unto The Breach!

Alastair Thompson writes: While the fairer intellectual disciplines Science, the Arts and Academia continue to be generously funded by Government, philanthropists and billionaires alike, Journalism of the routine kind - which has for three centuries provided the information infrastructure upon which a pluralist democracy is based - is fast disappearing in a fog of fake news. So then, this is Scoop’s call to arms... More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: The Catholic Church In Resistance

Legislators troubled by the enduring force and fascination with the seal of the confessional have gotten busy, most notably in Australia. This was prompted, in no small part, by the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. More>>

ALSO:

Untruth-In-Packaging: Gordon Campbell On The Media’s Problem With The Trump Circus

After shredding America’s relationships with its traditional G-7 allies, US President Donald Trump is about to sit down to pursue a ‘no nukes for lifting economic sanctions’ deal with North Korea – ie the same trade-off that Barack Obama signed with Iran, and which Trump has just torn up More>>

ALSO: