Ecolution is back and, would you believe it, it’s our 4th season!
© Ecolution 26.04.23
Evie returns with a first episode that heads further south than we’ve been before. Wrap up well as we are going all the way to Antarctica. We dip into what is happening in the Southern Ocean that surrounds its coast.
Antarctica covers an area of about 14 million square kilometres. It’s the 5th largest continent and 40% larger then the whole of Europe combined. It’s the home of the South Pole and also where a vast amount of the world’s water is stored in the form of ice.
Despite its scale, Antarctica is a place that has virtually no full time human population. To date, only 11 babies have actually been born on the continent! Not that they live there now. At different points in the year there are between 4000 and 5000 people stationed on the landmass, almost all of whom are scientists or support staff, researching the icy desert. There are 50 metres of sea level trapped in the ice.
Professor Matthew England is an Oceanographer who studies the waters off the coast of Antarctica and along with a team of scientists, late March saw the publication of their findings in Nature.com.
Their work looks into the impact that Global Temperature Rise is having on the water, and what that will mean for the planet. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth with typical temperatures sitting at MINUS 45 or MINUS 51 Celsius. As reported in the Washington Post, in the past few years this has changed, with some periods last March being considered ‘heatwaves’ in terms of their average, with temperatures sitting closer to 0.
What this means is an increase in meltwater from the huge tracts of ice. Glaciers calve and the ice that was once trapped flows into the ocean. This fresh water melt does not mix well.
Our oceans require “overturning circulation, cycling heat, carbon, oxygen and nutrients” throughout the combined waters that cover about 71% of the planet. The melt water is slowing this process at an alarming rate. It could slow by over 40% in the next 3 decades. And this is a direct result of Anthropogenic Climate Change.
In this episode Matt explains their findings in a way that anyone can understand.
It’s very hard to tell the story of our climate in regular news, as it’s one that plays out over a very long period of time. But the findings made by Matt and his colleagues, along with lots of other scientists around the world, relate to news that will continue to change and evolve throughout all of our lives and beyond.
Our planet is in a state of great change due to human activities. And yet knowing about it, and continuing to talk about it, can allow us to adapt to this changing world.
Thanks to this week’s Brain Trust, 5th class from Clerihan National School in County Tipperary. They are members of the Irish School’s Sustainability Network and we hope we’ll work with lots more kids like them throughout this season. We find out what they know about the icy continent.
If you or your class would like to be part of Ecolution, we’d love to hear from you.
Ecolution drops every TWO WEEKS on Wednesday at 7pm on RTÉjr Radio or listen wherever you get your podcasts
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