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Antarctica to London

Antarctica to London

“One of the biggest, most urgent questions is how Antarctica is responding to climate change, and what are its impacts on humanity”.

Professor Tim Naish, from Victoria University of Wellington, isn’t one to shy away from the big questions and now, the New Zealand Antarctic scientist has been asked to address such issues at the very first Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly in London.

Timed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty (1 Dec 1959), the Assembly will bring together parliamentarians from all 53 signatory countries. It will give them the opportunity to learn about and discuss how they can address the challenges facing Antarctica and, in turn, the rest of the world.

Professor Naish is one of only eight scientists from around the world invited to speak. His focus is Antarctica’s ice sheets and how they’ll contribute to future sea level rise.

“Seventy percent of the world’s fresh water is locked up in Antarctic ice. There will be 65 metres of sea level rise if it all melts” he says.

“Sea level has already risen by 20 centimetres in response to 1°C of global warming. If we continue going the way we’re going, that could be 1.5 metres of sea level rise by the end of the century. If that happens, 800 million people around the world will have their toes in the water” Professor Naish says.

Professor Naish’s message is about making a change but also being prepared.

“The latest science suggests there’s a tipping point in Antarctica. If we can keep temperatures below a 2°C increase since industrialisation (Paris Agreement), then it might be possible we can prevent major meltdown of the ice sheets and limit global sea level rise to half a metre. Don’t give up on mitigation, but at the same time, be prepared to adapt to what’s coming” he says.

Professor Naish arrived in London today and will present to the Assembly on Monday December 2nd.

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