September 9, 2014
The fate of the world as we know it is linked to the fate of Antarctica. 70% of all the fresh water on Earth is in Antarctica, in the form of ice.
Antarctica, a land mass that was once bathed in tropical sunshine and which housed vast forests and dinosaurs, is now the coldest continent on our planet, with record-breaking low temperatures of -93.2 degrees Celsius.
The striking footage of Antarctica’s powerful winds, massive icebergs and strong sea currents coupled with graphics demonstrates how the intensification of winds in northern regions have picked up speed and led to the demise of billions of layers of ice on Antarctica’s western coast.
By using satellite technology on a mission in 2002 called GRACE, scientists discovered that a massive meteor struck Earth’s southern hemisphere, which may have aided in the break-up of Pangea, the ancient super-continent from which all the current continents derive.
The shift of land masses pushed Antarctica to the southern-most pole, making it the coldest, driest and windiest place on our planet.
The GRACE mission showed that Antarctica is losing ice primarily on its western coast and in the center of the continent; while the northeastern areas are actually gaining ice. A whopping 159 billion tons of ice have been lost per year from 2010 to 2013. This massive loss is due to the intense winds and temperature differentiation from the north that are pulling warmer water to the surface, eradicating large ice shelves of west Antarctica. After drilling through 500 meters of ice, warm water was detected below that is also causing deterioration of ice.
What does the breaking apart of glaciers from Antarctica mean for the rest of the planet? As the speed in which these glaciers break apart increases, the ice sheets that lie behind them will collapse. Surprisingly, the erosion of parts of the continent is not merely due to climate change; there is movement of magma 25 kilometers below the plate that is also a big part of the glacial ice destruction. This proves to be a terrifying find: how will we stop the destruction of this frozen continent if it is completely out of our control?
There is no doubt that the increased melting of Antarctic ice spells a rise in global sea levels. This is nothing new, from the viewpoint of geologic time. Throughout history, global sea levels have risen and dropped. However the rapidity of what is currently happening will doubtless have an impact on our lives.
Conspiracy theories and political arguments cannot downplay what is happening to this southernmost land mass. Glaciers will continue to fall, creating a domino effect for the layers of ice behind them, and sea levels will continue to rise. Soon, our seaport cities, such as New York City, London, Hong Kong, etc. will be at risk.