Antarctica the Epicenter of Climate Change
by Tatiana Orr
Antarctica has always been known as the mysterious continent of ice. While there is still much to learn about it, what we do know is that recent changes in our environment are threatening the safety of our ecosystems with the arctic in the center of it all.
Antarctica is a landmass with an ice sheet that is over 2 miles thick and spans over 5.4 million square miles. The arctic peninsula contains 90% of the Earth’s freshwater ice and 70% of our planet’s entire freshwater supply. Over the past two decades the air and water on the continent have been warming up at an unprecedented rate to record highs which is resulting in extreme changes to the landscape as well as the lifeforms that inhabit it. Since 2012 the rate of ice melting has tripled resulting in the loss of glaciers and massive ice structures, so much so that our maps have had to be redrawn. To understand Antarctica typically has a temperature ranging from -10 degrees Celsius/14 degrees Fahrenheit to -60 degrees Celsius/-76 degrees Fahrenheit, but in 2020 it hit a high of 18.3 degrees Celsius/64.9 degrees Fahrenheit the same temperature as Los Angeles that day.
The lives of various animals like arctic foxes, polar bears, several species of whales, and penguins are being endangered by the lack of resources due to the immense changes that are taking place. Some animals are starving and dying out because of the migration of other animals in response to the changes above and beneath the ice. Red algae and other vegetation are starting to inhabit the continent and it is altering the very identity of the arctic as a whole.
So why should you care? Because climate change affects us all. It is important to realize that a lot of the changes we see happening to our planet are not reversible. There is no amount of effort we could give that would save us all from the long lasting effects of global warming if we do not take action today. Which brings us to the real question of what can be done to stop this? With negative changes there is also the opportunity to bring about positive change. If we each commit to creating sustainable habits and continue to spread awareness we can slow down the speed at which our ecosystem is falling apart. You can donate to research or adopt an animal to help provide outside resources to sustain them while environmental scientists find more permanent solutions.
It may sound like there is not much that could stop an entire continent from melting but there are. Sign those petitions to stop oil drilling, commit to reducing waste and recycling, make sure you’re being conscious about your carbon footprint. We are all together in this fight to save the world we know and love. Every small action collectively can be enough to stop if not slow down the deterioration of our planet.