Antarctica is still the most undiscovered continent on Earth because freezing temperatures and deadly storms have defeated explorers and scientists in search for answers about this mysterious, uninhabited land.
However, events are unfolding here that may spell disaster for the rest of the world. Glaciers are melting at a rapid rate and threatening to flood the world’s oceans, penguins are walking to their death in inexplicable suicide marches, seals are going blind, starfish are infertile, and some creatures are facing possible extinction. Is this an irreversible environmental change or can the global community work together to save our planet?
During the last five years, lone penguins have been observed to leave their colony and wander off deep into the continent, away from the water, never to be seen again. Most specialists believe that they meet certain death, however, one scientist believes that they are actually pioneers seeking to expand into new territories. This relocation is taking a significant toll on their numbers.
An increase of only two degrees in water temperature will cause starfish and other marine life to stop reproducing. This means that they won’t be able to survive.
One of the most important areas of studies at Antarctica is the ozone hole. Its size is increasing regularly and so is the increase in cases of skin cancer around the world. Dr. Jonathan Shanklin discovered this hole in 1985 and since then it had been getting bigger every week. It has now reached an area of about 25 million square kilometers and has stopped growing for the very first time. Many scientists believe that the reason for this has been the Montreal Protocol, a global initiative to ban the use of gasses that destroy ozone.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, global temperatures have been increasing steadily over the last 100 years. The warmest years have occurred within the last decade. The most dramatic effects of this rise in temperature has been observed in Antarctica where the ice is melting rapidly. Dr. Julian Scott, a geophysicist from the British Antarctic Survey believes that the flooding that will be produced by melting glaciers in Antarctica will mean that around the world entire cities will have to be relocated.
Antarctica holds 70% of the world’s fresh water in its ice. If that ice were to melt, the world’s sea level would rise 18 to 20 feet. This would have a domino effect that could eventually result in earthquakes and tsunamis due to the severe stress on oceanic fault lines.
What can be done to avoid these disastrous effects?