Study Says Fossil Fuel Emissions Must Fall to Give Antarctica Chance of Survival

The warming continent of Antarctica will face more and more excessive and damaging climate occasions within the coming years if world leaders don’t take “drastic motion” to rein in fossil fuels, the first driver of worldwide local weather chaos.

That’s the conclusion of a study revealed Tuesday within the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science amid rising alarm over the failure of Antarctic sea ice to replenish throughout the continent’s winter. Based on scientists, Antarctica was lacking an Argentina-sized amount of sea ice as of July — the hottest month on record.

The brand new examine, led by glaciologist Martin Siegert of the College of Exeter, finds that it’s “just about sure that future Antarctic excessive occasions can be extra pronounced than these noticed up to now” as international locations proceed to burn fossil fuels at a tempo incompatible with warming targets set by the Paris local weather accord.

The examine notes that “essentially the most excessive ‘heatwave’ ever recorded globally occurred over East Antarctica in March 2022 when floor temperature anomalies of as much as 38.5°C had been noticed.” The heatwave was related to an atmospheric river, which transports “warmth and moisture from the subtropics into the center of the Antarctic continent.”

“Though it was so excessive, a proper attribution of the March 2022 occasion to human elements has not but been carried out,” the examine provides. “Nonetheless, an attribution evaluation of an earlier record-breaking heatwave, that affected the Antarctic Peninsula in February 2020 and led to the very best recorded temperature within the Antarctic mainland (18.3°C at Esperanza Station), concluded a probable vital contribution from fossil-fuel burning.”

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The evaluation additionally factors to excessive cyclones that had been “implicated in a significant iceberg calving occasion of the Brunt Ice Shelf in 2020” in addition to “the speedy sea ice decline within the Weddell Sea in 2016/17.”

“Presumably essentially the most recognizable excessive occasion that occurred within the ambiance was the lack of stratospheric ozone, found above Antarctica within the Nineteen Eighties,” the examine continues. “This loss was triggered largely by a specific class of chemical substances: Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). While this occasion catalyzed speedy and efficient coverage motion by the worldwide group within the growth of the Montreal Protocol (adopted in 1987), the results of the ‘ozone gap’ are being felt many years later.”

Anna Hogg, professor within the Faculty of Earth and Surroundings on the College of Leeds and a examine co-author, stated the brand new analysis makes clear that “whereas excessive occasions are identified to affect the globe by means of heavy rainfall and flooding, heatwaves, and wildfires, equivalent to these seen in Europe this summer time, in addition they affect the distant polar areas.”

“Antarctic glaciers, sea ice, and pure ecosystems are all impacted by excessive occasions,” stated Hogg.

Based on the brand new examine, the Antarctic ice sheet in the present day “contributes six instances extra mass to the ocean than it did simply 30 years in the past,” a rise that the authors attributed to the burning of fossil fuels.

Siegert harassed that “Antarctic change has world implications.” A examine revealed earlier this 12 months within the journal Nature discovered that melting Antarctic ice may affect world oceans for “centuries to return” by disrupting the critical process of overturning circulation.

“Lowering greenhouse fuel emissions to internet zero is our greatest hope of preserving Antarctica, and this should matter to each nation — and particular person — on the planet,” stated Siegert.

Dozens of nations — together with america, the world’s high historic emitter of planet-warming carbon dioxide — are social gathering to the Antarctic Treaty, an settlement that obliges signatories to guard the continent from “appreciable stress and harm.”

“Nations should perceive that by persevering with to discover, extract, and burn fossil fuels anyplace on this planet,” Siegert stated Tuesday, “the surroundings of Antarctica will grow to be ever extra affected in methods inconsistent with their pledge.”

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