ANTARCTICA – A CRITICAL PART OF THE EARTH SYSTEM

Antarctica – a critical part of the Earth system

Alan Rodger

Climate Change – Risk and Resilience, 11 Fairway, Girton, Cambridge, CB3 0QF, UNITED KINGDOM

Abstract

Antarctic is remote from all civilisation but what happens there affects everyone. The paper briefly describes some science research topics of significant global relevance, where Antarctic and the surrounding ocean play a very important role. These include climate change, a sink for carbon dioxide, sea level rise, and the sustainable use of natural resources. Some suggestions are made about areas of Antarctic science that are likely to grow in importance over the next decade. In the future, Antarctic science requires a much more multi-disciplinary approach, scaling up from a local perspective to a continent-wide view and taking full account of the interactions between the Antarctic and the rest of the Earth system. New technologies are making an ever-more important contribution to Antarctic science but some developments are limited by the lack of cost-effective broad-band communications between Antarctica and the rest of the world. Computer models need to continue to be developed and data management requires major investment and coordination to address the key science questions. It is emphasised that international cooperation is essential owing to the scale and complexity of the fundamental science questions combined with the exceptionally-challenging operational conditions.

Keywords: Antarctic, climate change, sea level, krill, technology, data

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