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Climate Change in Antarctica

Climate Change: The Elevator Pitch

Eric Rignot - Professor of Earth system science at the University of California's - gives an elevator pitch on climate change in Antarctica >>

2 minutes 22 seconds

Imagine you step in an elevator and someone asks what’s up with human activity and global warming?

Well, the first thing about climate warming is that the physical basis we’ve know it for centuries. There is nothing new in science of climate change today. You bring more CO2, more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it warms it up. Its undisputable. It’s very solid physics.

The science is looking at the impact of that on the climate, the impact on humans, the impact on sea level, the impact on precipitation. It’s going to be┬áthe impact on food production, it’s going to be the impact the way people live. Pretty serious impacts. It's going to be impact on biodiversity, which in my opinion is bigger that sea level rise. The decay of species.

In the end, what we are saying, what most of the science is saying, is that the changes are going very fast. We’re on a very fast train heading for the wall. And that’s not good.

So we have to change. We have to change the way we live. And, I often say, its common sense. We didn’t leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stone. We have to leave the Oil Age because burning oil is not good for the climate, it’s not good for us. But it’s a huge shift in our society. It’s a huge shift in the way we live.

It’s not going to take a few scientists raising the red flag to make this happen. It has to be a big social movement where everybody says, "Hey, we want to stop this".

My only hope right now, that this is going to happen is the new generation. Young people from twenty to thirty. Because I think they are more sensitive to this. They don’t want this kind of world, down the line. And they probably are the first generation who can actually change it. They have to power to change it. And I hope they take it. I hope they take it.

The Story of Climate Change
April 2017

This is everything you need to know on climate science. Presented by Bill McKibben, Jim Hansen, Katharine Hayhoe and others.

12 minutes

Observed Arctic sea-ice loss directly follows
anthropogenic CO2 emission

by Dirk Notz and Julienne Stoeve.

New scientific research shows that each tonne of CO2 added to the atmosphere by human activities produces enough warming to melt 3 square meters (32 square feet) of polar summer ice.

While the research refers to the northern polar regions (not the Antarctic, but the principle is the same), this science paper suggests that every tonne of CO2 that humans add to the atmosphere has a warming impact enough to melt 3 square meters of summer polar ice.

Thus, the 10 - 15 tonnes of CO2 emissions from an average Antarctic cruise will melt about 30 - 45 square meters of polar ice... That's about as much ice as shown in the picture, below.

Read the science paper Read Article

Graph showing relationship between human greenhouse emissions and Arctic summer sea ice area. If we keep burning fossil fuels, one day, there will be no sea ice left.

An Antactic cruise can have the equivalent global warming impact to melt this much polar ice.

West Antarctic ice sheet and CO2 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster

by J. H. Mercer

Scientists predicted that CO2 emissions will melt the West Antarctic Ice Sheets and rise sea levels by over five meters in 1978 !!!


Read the science paper
The 'Holy Shit Moment' of a World Leading Climate Scientist
Interview with Antarctic scientist Eric Rignot.

2 minutes 12 seconds

"This glacier is retreating extremely fast and this is not part of the natural cycle... It's like changing the limit on the freeway from 55 miles an hour to 550 miles an hour."

"Pine Island, Thwaites and its neighbours contain about 1 meter sea level rise. If that whole sector goes down to sea, it will entrain the retreat of the rest of West Antarctica. We're talking about 3 to 5 metres sea level rise."

Antarctica penguins and climate change.
Anthropogenic climate change is making things hard for the penguins.

3 minutes 33 seconds

"Antarctica contains about 90 percent of the world's freshwater but its all in the form of ice. This freshwater is going to be melting and adding to the ocean. The ocean sea level's is going to be rising. So while the penguins are coping with these changes, humans are also going to have to be coping with the very same changes."

I am Ice by Liam Neeson
Nature is Speaking

1 minute

I am ice. I move slowly. I keep the world cool. Well, I used to.

But humans keep warming this planet.

I try to warn you. I send pieces of me thundering into the ocean. You do nothing.

I raise sea levels. You do nothing.

It has taken you decades to notice. Perhaps I'm not so slow afterall.

Contemporary science papers on Antarctic Climate Change

Antarctic and Climate Change


British Antarctic Survey


Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment Update

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research


Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment Update

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research


Potential for Southern Hemisphere Climate Surprises

Journal of Quartenary Science


Climate Change in Antarctica - Understanding the Facts
by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators

Unusual Rain and Foreign Species
Effects of Climate Change More Evident in Antarctica 2009

3 minutes 54 seconds

"It's raining almost every day and ten years or twenty years ago, it never rained here."

"In the Antarctic Peninsula during the last fifty years we estimate that the annual mean temperautre inceased by 2 or 3 degrees so it is a very huge increase in temperature in comparison with what happened in the past."

"A big chunk of ice just disappears in the water in a couple of weeks, it's not there any longer. That is not normal, that didn't happen before. So it means that just half a degree of temperature change leads to big change."

The White Continent: Climate Change and Antarctica
Introduction to the Source Media Documentary 2011

4 minutes 48 seconds

James Balog documents climate change in the Antarctic

8 minutes 27 seconds

"Many years ago I thought that it was basically impossible for humans to alter the basic physics and chemisty of the planet. It just never occured to me that that was a concieveable thing for Homo sapiens to do. And once I understood the evidence in the ice and the other parts of the Earth system, I realised that my belief system was wrong. The evidence was saying that the climate was changing, and that I had to change my belief system along with that."

The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning
Documentary by Al Gore 2009

52 minutes

"To see greenery in a place that has always been considered a desert its very exciting to see new life growing in places where it has never been previously."



Krill are vulnerable to anthropogenic CO2 becuase about half of what is emitted is absorbed in the ocean. CO2 plus H20 makes carbonic acid and the oceans are becoming acidified. For creatures that make their shells out of calcium carbonate - like the krill - this spells bad news.

Map of temperature changes in the Antarctic


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