Antarctica was one the most beautiful, pristine, sacred environments I’ve ever experienced. I fell in love with the wildlife but also with the ice.
Antarctica has been covered in ice for 30 million years since it drifted away from the super-continent Pangea. Since 2009, Antarctica has lost almost 278 billion tons of ice per year. In the 1980s, it was losing 44 billion tons a year. That is a 6-fold or 280% increase. Ice is disappearing faster each decade.*
“What we do in the next ten years will determine the next thousand. No generation before us has ever been faced with a challenge on a such planetary scale. … This is much bigger than ensuring polar bears and walrus have a place on our planet, this is about creating the world we ourselves want to live in.” Sir David Attenborough, Our Planet: www.ourplanet.com/en/video/how-to-save-our-frozen-worlds
Antarctica holds the majority of earth’s ice. The ice covering the continent is almost three miles thick and covers 98% of the land. Sea ice forms each year in the surrounding oceans in the colder, darker seasons.
Sea ice forms a barrier between the surrounding oceans and the ice on the land. Rising carbon dioxide levels warms the ocean and could reduce the sea ice causing a loss of the barrier and endangering the Antarctic ice sheet. If the average earth temperature rises more than 2 degrees Celsius, conditions would be similar to conditions 14 million years ago. Sea ice this January was at its lowest level since 1979 when measurements began.
If the Antarctic ice melted it would cause the average sea level to rise about 200 feet. The Antarctic ice sheets influence weather and climate as well as supporting the immense wildlife found in its seas and land.
I know traveling exposes me to cultures, environments, and wildlife in a way that makes me deeply care about their future. Along with treasuring the creations of man, I treasure the creations of nature. Can we save this breath taking environment on which all humanity and life depend in time?
The images below represent icebergs, sea ice, and land ice around the Antarctic Peninsula.
*taken from https://www.pnas.org/content/116/4/1095, Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences USA, Eric Rignot, Jérémie Mouginot, Bernd Scheuchl, Michiel van den Broeke, Melchior J. van Wessem, and Mathieu Morlighem