The Antarctica reached a record-high temperature of 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit or 18.2 degrees Celsius on February 8, 2020. “This is the foreshadowing of what is to come,” a researcher said. “It’s exactly in line of what we’ve been seeing for decades.”
The high temperature is in keeping with the earth’s overall warming trend, which is in large part caused by emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels). Even the warmest of Antarctic summers rarely sees temperatures rise above 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Antarctica is Earth’s 5th largest continent, and although to some people, its’ existence seems to have no direct bearing on them, Antarctica’s very existence matters hugely to the Earth. Antarctica has a specific environment that is home to unique plants and animals and it is a continent where very little has been disturbed, even though it is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on average.
The 70-350 inhabitants “lodging” in Antarctica are mainly scientists from around the world.
Blue Whales, Penguins, Leopard Seals and Seabirds depend on krill, small shrimp-like marine animals that live in all of the oceans worldwide, and a key species in the Antarctic food web. Krill populations have declined by 80% since the 1970s. Global warming has been blamed for part of that decrease because of the ice that is home to the algae and plankton they feed on is retreating. Although classified as a desert, Antarctica contains 90% of the world’s ice (which is three miles thick) and 70% of all available freshwater.
Researchers warn that a combination of climate change and industrial-scale fishing is threatening the krill population. Melting sea ice poses a grave threat to krill, which feed on phytoplankton growing beneath the ice. Krill are now swimming southward as their suitable habitat recedes due to climate change along the Peninsula and the Scotia Sea. This shift in krill distribution is likely to drain energy from migrating whales, with effects on body condition, reproductive fitness, and population abundance.
A significant difference between previous predictions of climate change and recent observations is that the forecast change appears to be occurring at a faster rate than initially expected. For example, significant ice loss from glaciers and the major ice sheets of Antarctica has already happened. When the ice sheets melt, the water has nowhere to go but into the ocean and will affect shorelines around the world. (Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk in size by almost one quarter since the 1950s, and the continent has lost 6 trillion tons of ice since 1992.)
Think about this: if all the ice covering Antarctica, Greenland, and in mountain glaciers around the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 230 feet. The ocean would cover all the coastal cities. And land area would shrink significantly. However, if you lived in Denver, you would probably survive.
Antarctica is one of the most pristine environments in the world; please help keep it that way.
Here’s how you can help save Antarctica (and the rest of Earth too)