Thu. Dec 5th, 2019

Antarctica already suffers an accelerated thaw in some areas, expert alert

Antarctica, one of the largest climatic sensors on the planet, already suffers from the accelerated thaw in some of its areas, and although the total melting would raise the sea level tens of meters, the ice mass will still last thousands of years, at least.

This is explained in an interview with EFE Damià Gomis, a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (Imedea), for whom the frozen continent and the Arctic stand out for being great regulators of the climate.

"Any climatic disruption that both suffer and through a global amplification process will affect the entire planet," he explains.

A few days after the celebration of the Climate Summit (COP25) in Madrid, the frozen continent, a large natural laboratory and with an extension almost 28 times that of Spain, will be one of the protagonists highlighted in this world meeting, for being one of the continents most vulnerable to the Earth's climate change.

Global warming has led to an increase in sea level due to two factors: on the one hand, the melting of continental ice causes more and more water in the oceans (not sea ice, which already takes its place and when it melts sea ​​level increases) and the second factor is the expansion of ocean water when heated, Gomis explained.

The increase – between 2.5 or 3 millimeters per year today – is an already proven fact, the researcher has observed, for whom Antarctica is one of the great potential contributors to such a rise in the future.

At this point, Gomis, also director of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory on Climate Change (LINCC) and Professor of Physics at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), appeals to the responsibility of governments to perceive that, in the face of climate change, it will be more expensive to adapt to its consequences, what to implement mitigation measures.

For example, the expert continues, if the sea level rises significantly throughout the Spanish coast, it will be necessary to undertake re-growth works on the docks of all ports to continue its operation.

How much money would we be talking about ?, the expert asks: it is not known exactly, but everything suggests that protecting the coast will have a "very high cost", much more than taking mitigation measures.

In its expeditions across the Antarctic continent (1994, 1996, 2008, 2009), Gomis has observed that depending on the natural variability of the phenomena it is more or less easy to elucidate whether the changes are attributable to climate change and natural climate variability, understood as averages of at least 30, 40 or 50 years.

For the physicist, climate change is "already inevitable", since the amounts of greenhouse gases emitted today are sufficient to produce significant changes in the planet's climate.

Therefore, appealing to countries to take mitigation measures, especially those with more capacity to assume them, because the magnitude of future change "will depend, to a large extent, on the policies applied to reduce emissions."

At this point, the severity of the climatic urgency is highlighted: the next 10 years "decisive" are foreseen to know if the future temperature of the planet will exceed the existing one in the pre-industrial period by more or less 2 degrees, and affects that a Significant reduction of CO2 emissions would be essential to limit that increase to less than 2 degrees.

"There is an optimistic scenario, to comply with the Paris Agreement, even to go further, so that the temperature increase does not exceed 2 degrees, and a more pessimistic one, in which no drastic measures are taken, and in which case a temperature rise between 4 or 5 degrees (reference for the year 2100) ".

CO2 emissions in Spain are attributed mainly to the sectors of energy production and transport, and Gomis advocates a "massive penetration" of energy from renewable sources instead of fossils.

He also notes that the transport sector, one of the most complex for its emissions, must be a candidate to lead an electrification process: "It is no use electrifying a car if the electric power to recharge the batteries comes from thermal power plants where burn coal. "

Regarding other means of transport such as the plane, the researcher has opted to minimize its use as a means of transport, because society is not aware that "climate change is in the hands of everyone", not just the rulers.

. (tagsToTranslate) Antarctica (t) thaw (t) accelerated (t) alert (t) expert

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