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Scientists warn: Antarctica’s major ice shelf may shatter within five years

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‘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.

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

Ukraine Crisis

The Ukrainian boss suing Russia for $20 billion

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Ukraine’s richest man is planning to sue Russia for nearly 20 billion dollars for losses caused by the bombardment of steel plants in Mariupol.

The Illich Steel and Iron Works, also owned by Akhmetov, was also badly damaged during Russian shelling of Mariupol.

The Azovstal steelworks suffered heavy damage from Russian bombing and shelling after the sprawling plant became the last bastion of defence in the southern port city.

Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov îs suing Russia

Now billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who owns the biggest Ukrainian steelmaker Metinvest, is planning to sue the Kremlin.

“We will definitely sue Russia and demand proper compensation for all losses and lost business,” Rinat Akhmetov, who owns the biggest Ukrainian steelmaker Metinvest, told Ukrainian news portal mrpl.city.

“The replacement cost … due to Russian aggression is from $17 to $20 billion. The final amount will be determined in a lawsuit against Russia.”

Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov

The final amount will be decided in the lawsuit.

The billionaire has already suffered years of losses due to Russia’s fighting in Ukraine’s east.

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Ukraine Crisis

Hunger fears mount over Ukraine grain blockade

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Ukraine’s grain mills are struggling to get back into full swing after suffering war damage, and that spells trouble for domestic consumers, and the global market.

Russian forces may have pulled back from Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, but the damage left behind is still there to see.

The local Mlibor granary reopened in April after Moscow withdrew from the area.

While it meets the country’s demand for corn, production is limited after Russian forces damaged the site through shelling.

Granary CEO Serhii Yarosh says the flour mill is completely out of order.

“The buildings are damaged, the workshops are damaged and the mill. Now we should be milling the flour which our country needs very much.”

Russia’s invasion – which it calls a ‘special military operation’ – has also led to a blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

That’s bad news for global food supplies as Ukraine is one of the world’s top producers of grain.

Pierre Vauthier is from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation.

“Odesa has to be reopened and we need to have an agreement to have it reopened. This diplomatic solution has to be discussed. There are people who can solve the situation and we need to have an agreement. As our secretary general has reminded us.”

Vauthier warned even if a diplomatic solution is reached on reopening the ports, it would still take several months to establish safe export routes.

The Kremlin has rejected claims that Russia has blocked grain exports from Ukraine, saying western sanctions are to blame.

On Thursday (May 26), a senior Turkish official said Ankara was in negotiations with Moscow and Kyiv to open a corridor via Turkey for grain exports from Ukraine.

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Ukraine Crisis

Ukrainian Foreign Minister accuses Moscow of blackmail

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Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says that Moscow is ready to end the blockade of Black Sea ports in Ukraine if the West relaxes its sanctions against Russia

The Foreign Minister has described Moscow’s latest offer as blackmail towards the international community.

This comes as the United Nations warns the block could intensify the global food crisis.

As 20 million tonnes of grain continue to be trapped in Ukrainian silos, international leaders fear that the naval blockade could lead to world grain shortages and further political instability.

Ukraine is one of the largest food suppliers in the world and is critical for the food distribution network.

Russia’s strong hold on the Black Sea ports has halted Ukrainian food export since the beginning of the war in February.

Samantha Hogan contributed to this article.

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