Last week, Ambassador Huebner of US Embassies New Zealand and Samoa wrote about his amazing trip to Antarctica. Climate change is predicted to have a greater impact in Antarctica than anywhere else on Earth, and these changes will affect all of us.
Polar Regions are often brought up in discussions about climate change because of fears over warming temperatures that will melt polar ice and raise sea levels; this, in turn, could cause flooding and force relocation of millions of people who live on coastlines, from New York to Kiribati. In Antarctica, climate change is projected to affect the weather by making it windier and wetter, which in turn will affect many animal species. For example, seal pups that are extremely vulnerable the first few months of life need to spend their energy on taking in their mother’s milk and growing strong so that one day they will be able to survive on their own; the projected wetter and windier weather could cause they to expend more energy on staying warm, potentially jeopardizing their growth and, ultimately, their survival.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has a page dedicated to information about the effect of climate change on the Polar Regions. In addition to the melting ice caps and the raising sea level, these changes will have significant effects around the world on humans and other species. For example, many migratory bird species depend on the Arctic for their breeding and feeding grounds, and changes in the Arctic wildlife (due to changing temperatures and survival rates), will affect these patterns.
To learn more about Antarctic climate, including who is studying it and what they have found, check out: