Changes in ocean's temperatures are an important measurement for experts since they warm the massive Antarctic glaciers from underwater and make them less stable, argues Louisa Casson from Greenpeace. Warmer climate affects:
- The glaciers that are formed on the Antarctic landmass compress into ice over time and they slowly flow under their own weight towards the ocean. However, when the seawater warms up the glaciers speed up their slow way to the coast. As a result, big pieces of ice break off into the sea as icebergs at faster speed;
- The melting and break down of glaciers cause the rise of ocean sea levels. Glaciers are melting faster than snow is falling to add new ice in Antarctic. The rate of the way glaciers melt, is going to affect coastal communities around the globe either living in small islands or big cities.
Moreover, warmer seas have a negative effect on the wildlife living in Antarctic too. In other words, warmer climate could also:
- Lure new species of animals and plants in Antarctic. As a result, this could create competition for the already existing Antarctic life that is used to cold temperatures;
- Increase the possibility of disease for the Antarctic’s most plentiful starfish.
Moving on to the surface of Antarctic, it is of a big importance that the amount of seawater that freezes around Antarctica during winter and its duration of being frozen can seriously affect many animals:
- Emperor penguins depend their breeding on sea ice, meaning that the melting of ice could result to them losing their key areas of their home;
- The population of krill could be seriously affected by warm weather, as youngster krill cluster around ice for food and shelter.
Continuing, tiny krill face serious challenges since the waters where they grow and reproduce are becoming more acidic from absorbing carbon. Life in polar regions is facing major problems absorbing pollution caused by burning fossil fuels on land.
Practically all Antarctic wildlife relies on krill as its basic food source. That is why, threats to krill will have hazardous effects throughout the Antarctic environment.
Scientists are of the opinion that protecting the ocean with ocean sanctuaries and altering our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy are some of the actions that will affect the future of Antarctic during the next decade.
All this reinforces that we need to act now. Tackling the causes of climate change and protecting the ocean must go hand in hand. We need to transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, and we need to protect our oceans with vast ocean sanctuaries,
...concludes Ms. Casson.