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Why this matters now

Read about why Antarctica needs our attention now and how we can respond to keep it SAEF.

If we lose Antarctica

Antarctica has always been our quiet, distant neighbour. But the scientific evidence is clear, it’s coming to the shores of a neighbourhood near you. Due to the current trajectory of human-induced climate change, Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting, it’s climate is changing and the Southern Ocean is warming, becoming more acidic and losing oxygen. 

These changes are causing far-reaching global consequences – that will reach you and your home. Global sea levels are rising, heatwaves, droughts, and floods are becoming more frequent and extreme, and ecosystems are collapsing. Scientists are documenting these changes, but their magnitude is still uncertain and must be understood. Our research seeks to address this, so that we can protect Antarctica, and our planet. 

The fate of this continent is very much in our hands, and action is now more urgent than ever.

We must achieve the Paris Agreement targets or expect damaging sea level rise.
If we allow 3°C or more of warming we could reach a climatic threshold that triggers an abrupt rise in ice loss, that once initiated will be rapid and unstoppable.
Change in the Antarctic region creates ripple effects all over the planet.
A 44 cm rise in global sea level is likely to result in 1-in-100-year coastal flood events becoming annual.
Modelling shows that if global warming is limited to 1.5°C or less we can prevent devastating sea-level rise.
We must act now.

The Antarctic invitation

Every year that has seen substantial, and usually rising greenhouse gas emissions, has been one where we have invited Antarctica’s ice sheets to come to our shorelines, and its climate system to change in ways that affect ours. Read more.

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Credit: Emiliano Cimoli

 

The opportunity

Is there something we can do? Of course there is. We must follow the message a chorus of scientists, activists, students and community members have been singing – meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, and do so with urgency. Then exceed them, and continue to do so.

According to the science, the best outcome will be net zero by 2040. Second-best, by 2050. This is the only ambition that provides us with a future that resembles the past we’ve been so privileged to have been part of. Ensuring Antarctica and its surrounding Southern Ocean remain quiet, distant neighbours is essential. This will help secure a bright future for our planet and our community. We can visit our neighbour periodically and immerse ourselves in its beauty, content in the knowledge that it will not announce itself in unruly ways, disrupting our lives. It’s up to us. Our future depends on it.

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