PERILS OF CLIMATIC CHANGE

 

For ages, the antagonistic environment of the “misremembered continent” has expressed that it changed very little. Regrettably, however, Antarctica’s uncertainty has not reduced man’s capacity to have an impression on it. Variations in the Antarctic panorama have brought the certainties of climate change into abrupt focus. The continent is a delicate sign of global climate conditions, as well as being crucial to the earth’s climatic endurance.

 

A BRIEF NOTE ON ANTARCTICA

 

Antarctica never had an inherent population that means it never had a native human Antarcticans. The landmass was once a portion of a larger land mass called Gondwana. It settled over the south pole and split from Australasia and South America long before humans emerged. There haven’t been any land joints to Antarctica for around 35 million years, it has been a separate island. Antarctica was already too isolated by distance, climate and the storminess of its seas for primitive peoples to discover. It wasn’t until 1820 when human technology and navigation was advanced enough to allow anyone to sail far enough south to even see Antarctica for the first time. There are a number of poorly verified parts of setting foot upon the Antarctic mainland from 1820, though 1899 is the first date accepted by some historians as indisputable. Antarctica is, therefore, one of the few places in the world that can truly be characterized as having been discovered, rather than there were people already living there who had understood about it for centuries or thousands of ages before its “discovery”.

EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING, A MAJOR THREAT

 

While the consequences of global warming are often obscure on a day to day basis, in the Antarctic they are becoming frequently manifest. The common concern for most people is that melting ice caps will raise the sea levels, which will follow in the flooding of low lying areas. The Antarctic does not bestow a major threat as far as this is concerned though. The continent itself does not contain enough water to make a notable difference to global sea levels.

The disintegration of the Antarctic’s ice cap could have a whole of other more pressing effects though. At the instant, the earth’s ice caps have an essential role in controlling global climate patterns. The Antarctic provides flexibility for ocean currents, rainfall levels and temperatures, all of which combine in a complicated matrix. It is the ice caps which present adherence to this system. Modifications to the Polar landscape would have random effects all around the world. These effects would be ranged but what is likely is that the weather would become more intense and less anticipated. This vulnerability could expose in sudden flooding, lengthened droughts, more severe temperatures, and more serious weather anomalies.

Despite the continent’s geographic uncertainty therefore, the Antarctic is an indispensable component of global stability. With the understanding that our actions have an impact on such a distant and significant place, it is on us to ensure that our efforts have a definite impact.

Antarctica and its surrounding waters are under pressure from a variety of forces that are already transforming the area, scientists warn.

 

The most paramount menaces are regional warming, ocean acidification and loss of sea ice, all connected to global levels of carbon dioxide. Sea ice cover, essential to the survival of virtually every animal that exists on and near the continent, then has been degraded by warming. exploration by tourists, research of researchers and other people also endanger to change Antarctica, as does the harvesting of animals like krill that are pivotal to the Antarctic food chain.

 

The continent is directed by the Antarctic Treaty System, a series of international treaties that manages research and tourism. The treaty has done a good job of preserving Antarctica’s environment and resource, until today. But advances are proceeding so fast that they need extra study. Research for more than 20 years on nematodes and worm-like creatures are carried out in  Antarctica’s dry valleys.

 

 

Melting ice

 

The Antarctic Peninsula, only a few days’ sea voyages from South America, is changing especially fast. The area encompassing the peninsula’s Palmer Station, run by U.S. researchers, is undergoing the fastest winter warming of any place on Earth, and 87 percent of the peninsula’s land-bound glaciers are in retreat, according to research cited on the station’s website.

In some areas of the Antarctic Ocean, sea ice is blank three months longer than it was a few decades ago. The framework of the ecosystem is melting away. For example, loss of sea ice has hurt the Adelie penguin, which lives on the ice; its inhabitants have decreased by 80 percent since 1975. Krill in the area (a primary food source for Adelies) also have reduced by 80 percent since 1991, according to a 2011 study in the journal Experiments of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

Krill feed on Antarctic phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that use photosynthesis and give the foundation for the whole ecosystem. Loss of ice changes the excess, timing and area of phytoplankton blooms, and not for the better. Krill larvae feed underneath ice sheets, so the lack of ice indicates fewer krill.

More people

 

While there’s less ice, there are more people. Last year nearly 20,000 tourists toured the Antarctic Peninsula, according to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators. There are also more researchers, and there is more research on minerals and other resources.

 

There are “many scientists, added tourists, numerous research stations, more countries are undertaking Antarctic research, and comprehensive access to the continent in common, including the once-remote interior.

 

An increase in visitors means more interruptions to the frangible ecosystem, more pollution, and more possibilities to bring organisms onto the continent from elsewhere in the world.

 

It’s impossible to keep people from bringing other organisms with them. These organisms could involve invasive species that significantly affect deftly balanced ecosystems.

 

With the visitors come the boats and other modes of shipping they use.

 

An addition in boats expects a greater possibility of an oil spill in an area that would be very challenging to clean up. More than a dozen “vessel emergencies” have been reported in the Southern Ocean in the past six years. That includes a Chilean vessel that passed down in 2007 carrying 50,000 gallons (190,000 liters) of diesel. A Brazilian ship sank in April.

 

Species also can be more straight affected. For example, fishing boats target krill and other species, emphasizing weak populations.

 

The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is especially unprotected to acidification since carbon dioxide from the atmosphere vanishes more quickly in cold water than in hot water. This makes it challenging for mollusks and other shell-forming animals to grow since acid eats away at these shells.

 

The future

 

While the Antarctic Treaty forbids commercial mineral extraction on the continent, this provision is subject to variation and doesn’t stop the countries that haven’t signed onto the treaty, the study warns. It is seen as a major challenge in the long term.

 

“With the increasing influence of climate change and need for fossil fuels and mineral resources, it seems undeniable that political and economic forces will direct people to recognize exploiting Antarctica,”

 

The treaty also doesn’t restrict offshore research, which is becoming more feasible as technology progresses and call for oil and other resources grows.

 

Areas such as the McMurdo Dry Valleys are some of the world’s most extreme environments, with Mars-like circumstances created by the cold and lack of precipitation. Here a footprint can last centuries, due to the lack of disturbance.

 

Warming has altered the structure of the unique organisms that can exist here, at the very limits of life. It’s vital to preserve this continental laboratory, which has so many features that endure nowhere else.

 

Our whole thing is HOW TO PRESERVE  ANTARCTICA  – a unique continent

– SARANYA NAGARAJAN