On alert for the climate crisis in Antarctica

On Wednesday, September 29, 2021, at the iconic building of the Academy of Athens—Greece’s first research institution—scientists and members of the community took part in an open, public dialogue. Setting the backdrop for this discussion were the extreme weather events of this past summer and the publication of the Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which confirms, beyond any doubt, that global warming is caused by human activity.

Antarctic Programme Leader at the Norwegian Polar Institute Birgit Njåstad referred, in a taped interview streamed during the live discussion, to the three areas of change in Antarctica of which we should be vigilant. “The Antarctic is quite key in driving the global climate system. So any small changes in the ocean or the atmosphere, or a combination of that in the Antarctic can have rippling effects on the full climate system of the world where we live. Secondly, of course, there is a lot of ice in the Antarctic as we know, and if that ice, or some of that ice, melts we will have sea-level change and we know that is happening and is happening faster…. The third is the ecosystems or the marine systems around Antarctica, which are also slowly changing due to these changes in the physical surroundings. The biological system of the marine environment around Antarctica also has an influence on the full global marine system and the ecosystem services of the oceans and our world.”