Is Antarctica Affected By Global Warming

The Antarctic continent and its surrounding ocean have long been held up as an example of a place safe from the impacts of global warming and climate change. A recent spate of studies however, suggest that this is no longer true. The results of these studies highlight the serious threat Antarctica and its sensitive ecosystems face due to the rising global temperatures.

Though Antarctica and its surrounding sea has long been deemed ‘invulnerable’ to global warming, the evidence suggests this is no longer the case. For example, temperatures in the Antarctic peninsula have risen in recent decades2, 3 at faster rate than the global average, leading to a ‘rapid and nature of transformation’ 4 of its habitats over the past 50 years. This warming has driven a range of changes, from the melting of Antarctic Ice shelves to the displacement of native species, indicating that the effects of global warming are now increasingly being felt in the region.

The effects of global warming in Antarctica can be felt in its marine ecosystems too. Here, rising ocean temperature is the primary agent of change, driving range of problems, such as the reduction of plankton populations, the displacement of commercially important fish stocks and the invasion of non-native species. This has serious implications for the continent, as these alterations can cause wide-spread disruption to the fragile equilibrium of the Antarctic food web.

In addition to being affected by climate change, Antarctica is itself becoming an active player in accelerating global warming. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Antarctic is responsible for around 10 percent of global sea-level rise — a rise that is becoming increasingly rapid as the continent’s melting glaciers, ice sheets and ice shelves break off and enter the ocean.

Further evidence of the effects of global warming on Antarctica can be seen in its Antarctic Treaty System. Established in 1959, this system established legal protection for the continent’s land and species, prohibiting any commercial activity, such as fishing and mining. However, due to its vulnerability to global warming and increasing pressures from commercial interests, the validity of these efforts has been increasingly called into question.

The conclusion from these findings is clear: Antarctica is no longer a safe zone from the impacts of global warming and climate change, with the continent and its adjacent seas now threatened by the same serious environmental issues facing much of the rest of the planet. In order to to protect this unique and fragile region it is vital that the international community adopts a unified approach to environmental protection, taking serious action to reduce emissions and promote sustainability. As the effects of global warming continue to mount, it is essential that Antarctica is not forgotten and its on-going sustainability is prioritized and safeguarded.

Ernestine Warren is a passionate environmentalist, author, and advocate for the protection of the Earth's precious resources. She has written extensively on the causes and effects of global warming, providing accurate information to help educate people on how to combat this major global problem. With a background in science and biology, Ernestine has the tools to help develop solutions that meet everyone's needs while minimizing environmental damage. Her hope is that each person can do their part for the planet and make a real difference to help reduce climate change.

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