ABOUT THE CLIMATE CHANGE: DISCOVERY OF A NEW ISLAND IN ANTARCTICA IS NOT GOOD NEWS…

by Marina Orhei

MONACO. Due to the health crisis related to the Coronavirus – Covid19 epidemic, the Monaco Blue Initiative (MBI) organising committee has received several cancellations from participants of the 11th editition, scheduled to take place on 22 and 23 March 2020.  Faced with this situation, the organising institutions have regretfully decided to cancel the 2020 edition of the Monaco Blue Initiative, a hihg-level discussion platform gathering numerous international leaders from the political and ocean spheresThe 11th edition of the MBI will be postponed to March 2021. 

About the climate change and protection of the oceans it should be remembered that only a few days ago a scientific station located in Antarctica recorded the record temperature of 20 degrees centigrade, which exceeded by two degrees centigrade that which had already marked another record temperature on February 6 last year, the which reached 18 ° C. Records that have produced, as a consequence, the beginning of a withdrawal of the Antarctic ice that until a few years ago seem not to be affected by global warming. Ice acts like a protective cover over the Earth and our oceans. These bright white spots reflect excess heat back into space and keep the planet cooler. In theory, the Arctic remains colder than the equator because more of the heat from the sun is reflected off the ice, back into space. Glaciers around the world can range from ice that is several hundred to several thousand years old and provide a scientific record of how climate has changed over time. Through their study, we gain valuable information about the extent to which the planet is rapidly warming. They provide scientists a record of how climate has changed over time. Today, about 10% of land area on Earth is covered with glacial ice. Almost 90% is in Antarctica, while the remaining 10% is in the Greenland ice cap. Rapid glacial melt in Antarctica and Greenland also influences ocean currents, as massive amounts of very cold glacial-melt water entering warmer ocean waters is slowing ocean currents. And as ice on land melts, sea levels will continue to rise. Sea ice forms and melts strictly in the ocean whereas glaciers are formed on land. Icebergs are chunks of glacial ice that break off glaciers and fall into the ocean. When glaciers melt, because that water is stored on land, the runoff significantly increases the amount of water in the ocean, contributing to global sea level rise. Sea ice, on the other hand, is often compared to ice cubes in a glass of water: when it melts, it does not directly change the level of water in the glass. Instead, depleting Arctic sea ice triggers a host of other devastating consequences—from depleting available ice on which walrus can haul out or polar bears hunt to changing weather systems around the world by altering the pattern of the Jet stream. Even if we significantly curb emissions in the coming decades, more than a third of the world’s remaining glaciers will melt before the year 2100. When it comes to sea ice, 95% of the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic is already gone.Scientists project that if emissions continue to rise unchecked, the Arctic could be ice free in the summer as soon as the year 2040 as ocean and air temperatures continue to rise rapidly. Melting glaciers add to rising sea levels, which in turn increases coastal erosion and elevates storm surge as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons. Specifically, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are the largest contributors of global sea level rise. Right now, the Greenland ice sheet is disappearing four times faster than in 2003 and already contributes 20% of current sea level rise. How much and how quickly these Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt in the future will largely determine how much ocean levels rise in the future. If emissions continue to rise, the current rate of melting on the Greenland ice sheet is expected to double by the end of the century. Alarmingly, if all the ice on Greenland melted, it would raise global sea levels by 20 feet. Today, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere on earth, and the sea ice there is declining by more than 10% every 10 years.

As this ice melts, darker patches of ocean start to emerge, eliminating the effect that previously cooled the poles, creating warmer air temperatures and in turn disrupting normal patterns of ocean circulation. Research shows the polar vortex is appearing outside of the Arctic more frequently because of changes to the jet stream, caused by a combination of warming air and ocean temperatures in the Arctic and the tropics. The glacial melt we are witnessing today in Antarctic and Greenland is changing the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and has been linked to collapse of fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and more destructive storms and hurricanes around the planet. What happens in these places has consequences across the entire globe. As sea ice and glaciers melt and oceans warm, ocean currents will continue to disrupt weather patterns worldwide. Industries that thrive on vibrant fisheries will be affected as warmer waters change where and when fish spawn. Coastal communities will continue to face billion-dollar disaster recovery bills as flooding becomes more frequent and storms become more intense. People are not the only ones impacted. In the Arctic, as sea ice melts, wildlife like walrus are losing their home and polar bears are spending more time on land, causing higher rates of conflict between people and bears. That the Earth is an ever-changing Planet is a known thing. In recent years some islands have arisen from the oceans and others have disappeared. The newly born ones were created by very intense submarine eruptions that at a certain point brought out the lavas to create real islands. Some of these then disappeared within a few months or years following the erosion of sea waves. But until now it has never happened to observe a new island following the melting of the glacial blanket of Antarctica. But this is what has happened in recent weeks in the vicinity of the continent located south of the world.

The discovery of the new island was a real surprise for the researchers of the scientific expedition Thwaites Glacier Offshore Research, who were studying one of the glaciers most affected by the rise in temperatures and also considered among the most dangerous in Antarctica, when they saw emerge from the sea ​​a large rocky outcrop that was not present on the geographical maps of the place. Being more than 60 kilometers away with their ship, at first they thought it was a “very dirty” iceberg, but since it seemed strange they approached and with surprise they discovered that it was mainland. They descended on it and were able to establish that it has an area of ​​about 60,000 square meters, about 3 times the surface of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. And so they discovered that it was a new island that emerged from the sea following the melting of the glacier that covered it. “It is possible that its emergence – the researchers said – was caused partly by the withdrawal of the glacier and partly by the” glacial rebound “that all emerged lands have when a large glacier withdraws.” In fact, they behave like a piece of cork on the water on which a weight is placed. When the weight is removed, the cork tends to leak more from the water. Here, the rocks of the earth’s crust behave in the same way in that they rest on an underlying mantle that acts as a fluid on which the earth’s crust “floats”. For the moment the researchers have called that island Sif, as the Norse goddess of family and fertility and in mythology she is also Thor’s wife. Well, what can we do to help? Strong action on climate change means preparing communities for impacts that are happening now. But it also means looking to the future, focused on reducing the heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere that will bring damaging consequences as our planet warms.The good news is that individuals can play a big part on both fronts with just a few simple changes. First, reach out to your local elected officials to find out if your city has a disaster response plan for right now. Keeping communities’ safe starts by having a strong plan in place that leverages some of the best, but underutilized tools we have to protect or communities: nature.

Main Sources

Prince Albert II Foundation  http://www.fpa2.org/home.html

Life Science

 

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