If you want to Yachting in Antarctica you should know that the world was filled with concern between late January and early March 2002 when the Larsen B ice shelf broke away from Antarctica, releasing a staggering 3,250 square kilometers of ice 220 meters thick into the sea. Now, another ice shelf, a hundred times larger, is about to suffer the same fate. It has already earned the nickname “the glacier of the apocalypse” because of its potential to raise sea levels by 50 centimeters.
The Fracturing of Thwaites Glacier
Twenty years ago, an ice mass as large as the Aosta Valley shattered into thousands of small icebergs in the Weddell Sea, melting at an alarming and unforeseen rate. In just one month, 500 billion tons of ice transitioned into liquid form. What astounded scientists, even more, was the manner in which the glacier collapsed—it broke apart inexplicably, resembling the disintegration of hundreds of thousands of small bricks.
The recent conference in New Orleans
This week, experts studying glaciers gathered in New Orleans for a conference. The reports presented by American and British researchers who have been observing the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica for a long time revealed the formation of large cracks and fissures both above and beneath this enormous ice mass—one of the largest in the world.
There is a well-founded concern that within the next two to four years, Thwaites could break into millions of pieces, similar to what happened to Larsen B.
The Magnitude of Thwaites Glacier
Thwaites Glacier, unlike the Aosta Valley, is the size of Great Britain and holds so much water that it could raise the global sea level by half a meter. Even on its own, the glacier contributes 4% to the rising sea levels due to the “normal” rate of melting observed in recent decades. However, it is currently melting and fracturing at much higher rates.
When scientists examine maps of Antarctica and satellite images, they exchange catastrophic predictions. Thwaites Glacier is not only immense itself but also acts as a barrier to many other glaciers, preventing their descent into the sea. If this barrier were to collapse, the disintegration of other glaciers would accelerate, leading to the complete dissolution of the polar ice cap.
Consequences of a Collapse
If this scenario were to unfold, sea levels would rise by tens of meters, flooding all coastal cities worldwide and erasing beaches and ports. The planet’s climate would dramatically change, potentially regressing human civilization by thousands of years. Ninety million years ago, during the mid-Cretaceous period, Antarctica was free of ice and covered in plants, meadows, and flowers similar to those found in New Zealand. The average temperature ranged from 12 to 19 degrees Celsius.
This circumstance allows climate change deniers to argue that climate fluctuations have always occurred and are not solely caused by human activities, suggesting there is nothing we can do to prevent them.
The Acceleration of Phenomena
What concerns scientists is not the fact that things constantly change, as evident when we look around us or study the planet’s geology. The acceleration of these phenomena is the real problem.
Just as they begin to agree on collective action to mitigate global warming, new data emerges, worsening the starting point from which decisions were made. The average annual rate of sea-level rise more than doubled in less than ten years, from 1.4 millimeters in 2006 to 3.6 millimeters in 2015, and is further accelerating.
The Threat and the Future
The melting of Antarctic ice is much more severe and dangerous than that of the Arctic, which is largely submerged in water. The glaciers of the South Pole, on the other hand, rest on land and contribute “new” water to the oceans.
Among those who professionally observe climate change and the increasingly severe disasters occurring worldwide, including tornadoes, cyclones, storms, floods, and droughts, some are starting to believe that it may be too late to halt an ongoing cycle of changes.
While it is essential to continue on the path of reducing the use of fossil fuels and adopting a more environmentally friendly way of life, it is becoming increasingly necessary to allocate significant resources to aid those affected by disasters, safeguard vulnerable areas, enhance civil protection systems, and ensure the survival of humanity in the hostile world that awaits us.
Yachting Adventures in Antarctica
However, amidst these concerns and the potentially dire consequences, there is still a unique opportunity to explore the mesmerizing beauty of Antarctica through yachting expeditions. As the region faces unprecedented changes, it has become more crucial than ever to experience and appreciate its magnificence while it is still possible.
Yachting in Antarctica offers an unparalleled journey into one of the last frontiers of our planet. It allows adventurous travelers to witness the awe-inspiring landscapes, majestic glaciers, and extraordinary wildlife that thrive in this remote and untouched part of the world.
Exploring the Pristine Wilderness
Encountering Unique Wildlife
Understanding Climate Change
Yachting expeditions in Antarctica also provide an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of climate change and its impact on the region. Expert guides and onboard scientists offer valuable insights into the ongoing changes, helping guests comprehend the significance of preserving this fragile ecosystem.
It is crucial to emphasize that yachting in Antarctica must be approached with the utmost care and responsibility. Operators adhere to strict guidelines to minimize the environmental footprint of these expeditions. Sustainable practices, such as waste management, low-impact landings, and adherence to wildlife protection regulations, are paramount in preserving the delicate balance of this unique environment.
While the imminent threats of the collapsing Thwaites Glacier and the consequential rise in sea levels are alarming, they underscore the urgency to appreciate and protect the wonders of Antarctica.
Yachting in this pristine region allows individuals to witness its extraordinary beauty firsthand and develop a deeper connection with the natural world. By embracing responsible tourism practices, we can contribute to the preservation of Antarctica’s delicate ecosystem, ensuring that future generations can also marvel at its unparalleled magnificence.
You can also learn about the change in the ocean by reading our article of Plastic Accumulation in the Oceans