Scientists warn: Antarctica’s major ice shelf may shatter within five years
‘Doomsday’ glacier would be left without an anchor, raising sea levels by about 25 metres
The effects of climate change are continuing to wreak havoc on the planet as one of Antarctica’s major ice shelves edges closer to a breaking point.
An integral ice shelf that holds a critical glacier is at risk of encountering numerous fractures within the next five years.
Scientists attending the American Geophysical Union meeting warned that the breakage will take a “zig-zag” route through the ice, fragmenting it into smaller pieces.
The Thwaites Glacier is larger than the size of England and contributes approximately four per cent to global sea level rise yearly.
If predictions come to fruition sea levels could rise by about 25 per cent as increasing ocean temperatures continue to dissolve the eastern ice shelf.
Science reporter at The Washington Post Sarah Kaplan says the changes are a sign of climate change.
“There are several forces acting on the ice shelf… and a big one is that this warmer, relatively warm water by Antarctic standards is eroding underneath the bottom of the ice shelf and thinning it and weakening it,” Ms Kaplan says.
The ice shelf itself is not the contributor to rising sea levels
“And then you start to see other other forces at play, including incredible stress on the shelf that is leading to the creation or the emergence of these fractures that weaken it.”
She says the ice shelf itself will not contribute to sea level rise but if it no longer fulfils its role as a “brace” for the Thwaites Glacier then the river of ice may become unstable.
“Without the ice shelf scientists fear that this portion of weights is going to flow much more quickly into the sea and sort of catch up with the rest of the glacier, which is already moving at three times the rate of the eastern portion,” Ms Kaplan says.
What can be done to prevent further global warming?
Research conducted by the European Geosciences Union has shown that increased carbon dioxide largely due to the burning of fossil fuels is closely linked to changed in temperature.
“Figuring out ways to transition our energy systems and our buildings and our transportation away from burning fossil fuels… that is going to be the thing that slows warming and ultimately slows this rapid transformation of Antarctica and will make the future less dangerous,” Ms Kaplan says.
NASA satellite data has predicted the global sea levels to rise by two to six feet by the end of this century steered by melting in Greenland and Antarctica.
Europe is preparing for winter: how can you keep costs down?
Britain is facing a surge in cold weather, with icy conditions and fog expected for much of this week
The UK Met Office has issued a Yellow warning, which means there could be damage to buildings as Britons brace for cold conditions.
Like much of Europe, the UK are bracing for very strong winds on Wednesday, causing disruption to travel and some utilities.
Drivers are also urged to take extra care on the roads, with warnings in place for icy stretches forming on UK roads.
But some residents who are seeking to heat their homes are on edge, as power prices remain high.
Peter Smith is the director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, who said the rising cost of living is impacting Britons.
“The average annual bill has almost doubled since this time last year.”
The organisation seeks to close the gaps when it comes to energy affordability. It predicts 6.7 million UK households will be in fuel poverty in the coming months.
This means millions of Britons will be unable to afford living in a warm, dry and safe home.
“So far the milder than usual weather has protected many from the spiralling bills as they haven’t needed to heat their homes as high or as long as usual,” Mr Smith said.
How to keep warm without blowing your bill
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged people to make their own decisions, as he met with world leaders in tropical Bali last week.
“There are things that we can do—all of us—to improve the efficiency with which we use energy, to be careful about it,” he said.
For example, an efficient heater; taking advantage of the sun, where appropriate; and rearranging furniture are some cost-effective methods to reduce the burden on gas and energy bills.
In addition, there are some other cheap ways to reduce dependence on gas and electricity bills, as the temperature continue to plunge.
- close off rooms you’re not using
- lower the temperature of heating
- make sure windows are fully closed
- block cold drafts from under doors using door snakes or carpet.
The UK Government has placed a cap freeze on energy prices.
This means households will pay an average £2,500 on their energy bills. But there is a catch: if households use more, they pay more.
National Energy Action believes an additional 2.2 million homes could be in fuel poverty, when compared to the same time last year.
Why are energy prices so high?
As demand increases, so too does the cost of heating homes.
But there is another factor, which has sent prices rising across Europe: the war in Ukraine.
Russia accounts for 25% of global gas trade, 15% of global thermal coal trade and 10% of global oil trade.
However, countries are struggling to find alternative supplies after sanctioning Moscow for the ongoing conflict.
Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was expected to double the amount of Russian gas shipped to Europe.
In July, Russia cut the amount of gas pumped through Nord Stream 1 to 20 per cent capacity.
Hoax call between Polish and “French” Presidents
Poland President Andrezj Duda spoke to a hoaxer posing as France counterpart Emmanuel Macron, on the night a missile hit near the Poland-Ukraine border.
The news was confirmed after two Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus, posted a recording of the incident, and Duda’s office also affirmed the incident.
During the call, Duda was asking who was responsible for the attack on November 15, wanting to avoid a war with Russia.
The missile landed six kilometres from the border.
Initial reports suggested the missile was Russian-made, but it was later discovered to likely be a Ukrainian air defence missile.
This is the second time the pranksters have targeted the Poland President, who have made their names going after celebrities and politicians, especially those opposed to the Kremlin.
Russian missiles hit NATO territory, killing two
Russian missile hits Poland, as the west assesses the attack on a NATO member
Reports a Russian missile has landed in Poland, killing two people. A projectile struck an area where grain was drying in the village of Przewodów, near the Ukraine border.
An anonymous U.S. intelligence official suggested a barrage of Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian power grid, and spilt into neighbouring Poland.
Poland is a NATO member, therefore, this signifies a potential escalation to the ongoing war. It also marks the first time weapons have impacted a NATO country.
Currently, the Polish government are holding urgent talks. A Polish spokesman Piotr Mueller has confirmed that top leaders are holding an emergency meeting regarding the “crisis situation.”
Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack on one country is considered an attack on all.
The White House has not confirmed the reports but the Pentagon is assessing the situation.
While NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—it has only invoked Article 5 once.
For the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO evoked Article 5 and came to the defence of the United States.
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