Frontiers in Environmental Science, 8 August 2023
Extreme events in Antarctica will become more frequent and pronounced unless drastic action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. This study documents the alarming increase in extreme heatwaves, all-time low sea ice conditions, ice shelf collapse and species population crashes that are threatening the delicate and globally important Antarctic environment, including its massive ice sheet holding more than 50 meters of sea-level rise. Due to fossil fuel burning, Antarctic ice losses today are now six times greater than just 30 years ago. If current high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, extreme events could contribute to pushing Antarctica past thresholds that lock in multiple meters of unstoppable sea level rise for centuries. Only immediate and far-reaching climate action can prevent the impacts of Antarctic extreme events from escalating into more frequent, widespread and larger hazards in coming decades.