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eeilers / iStock

Why Remote Antarctica Is So Important in a Warming World

By Chris Fogwill, Chris Turney and Zoe Robinson

Ever since the ancient Greeks speculated a continent must exist in the south polar regions to balance those in the north, Antarctica has been popularly described as remote and extreme. Over the past two centuries, these factors have combined to create, in the human psyche, an almost mythical land—an idea reinforced by tales of heroism and adventure from the Edwardian golden age of "heroic exploration" and pioneers such as Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton.

Recent research, however, is casting new light on the importance of the southernmost continent, overturning centuries of misunderstanding and highlighting the role of Antarctica in how our planet works and the role it may play in a future, warmer world.

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East Africa faces persistent drought as the three warmest years recorded unfold. Oxfam East Africa / Wikimedia Commons

2017 Ranks Among 3 Warmest Years on Record

By Alex Kirby

For all of us, as 2017 proves to be one of the three warmest years on record, climate change presents a greater risk of sickness or death than it did four decades ago, the United Nations says. And for some of the world's poorest people, the consequences of unpredictable weather caused by changing climate mean devastating disruption to their daily lives.

The news comes from the World Meteorological Organization, the UN system's leading agency on weather, climate and water, which has published its 2017 report on the state of the global climate. Much of it makes somber reading.

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Two centuries of eruptions by Mt Takahe altered the ancient Antarctic climate considerably. NASA ICE / Flickr

How the Ancient Antarctic Explains Today’s Warming World

By Tim Radford

Deep in the last Ice Age, 17,700 years ago, the ancient Antarctic suddenly began to warm. Climate change, unexpectedly, made itself felt in the Southern Hemisphere.

Glaciers in Patagonia and in New Zealand began to retreat. Lakes in the Bolivian Andes began to swell with meltwater. Rain fell in the desert of Australia, and the gusts of dust that normally leave a trace in polar snows began to diminish.

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Animals
Paradise Bay, Antarctica. axily / Fotolia.com

Greenpeace Launches Campaign to Create ‘Largest Protected Area on Earth’

Greenpeace has launched a global campaign for an Antarctic sanctuary, covering 1.8 million square kilometers (approximately .7 million square miles) of ocean, to protect whales, penguins and other wildlife.

Following a failure to agree on strong marine protection in the East Antarctic, Greenpeace has called for governments to show "greater vision and ambition" in the coming year and create the largest protected area on Earth: an Antarctic Ocean sanctuary.

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Rex Features

Rising Seas May Bring More Superstorms

By Tim Radford

New York City—hit by Superstorm Sandy five years ago at a cost of $50 billion—could be under water again soon. What 200 years ago would have been regarded as the kind of flood that happened only once in 500 years could, by 2030, bring superstorms every five years or so.

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Texas National Guard soldiers respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Ssg. Tim Pruitt

Intensity of Harvey's Devastation Linked to Warming

By Alex Kirby

Tropical storm Harvey is by any standard off the scale. Some parts of Texas have received in just over a week the rainfall they would normally expect in an entire year, and the storm is described as generating as much rain as would normally be seen only once in more than 1,000 years.

Exceptional as it is, Harvey is not a direct consequence of climate change, in the judgment of one leading climate scientist, professor Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.

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Andreas Kambanis / Flickr

Scientists Discover 91 Volcanoes Hidden Under Antarctic Ice Sheet

Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth, may now be home to the densest concentration of volcanoes, according to a first-of-its-kind study.

The discovery isn't something to get too excited about. The researchers warned that if these volcanoes were to erupt, it could cause more ice sheets to melt and contribute to sea level rise.

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Cirrus clouds over Golden Gate Bridge. Brocken Inaglory / Wikimedia Commons

Is Geoengineering the Answer to Limit Global Warming?

By Tim Radford

Geoengineering, the deliberate alteration of the planet to undo its inadvertent alteration by humans over the past 200 years, is back on the scientific agenda, with a climate compromise suggested as a possible solution.

One group wants to turn down the global thermostat and reverse the global warming trend set in train by greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel combustion, by thinning the almost invisible cirrus clouds that trap radiation and keep the planet warm.

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We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time Bomb Is Ticking

By Alex Carlin

A recent New York Magazine article about the climate ruin we are facing, by David Wallace Wells, has caused a furor for describing the catastrophes that could happen to our planet by the end of the century if we do not mitigate the harms to our climate and reverse course. This op-ed by guest contributor Alex Carlin contends that those crises could happen much sooner, and he details steps he believes could help forestall disaster.

Yes, Virginia, we still have time to restore our climate. But the Climate Time Bomb is undeniably ticking–and Trump has pulled out of the Paris agreement.

What should we do?

Trump climate policy is blind and deaf to the fact that the Climate Bomb can cause millions—or even potentially billions—of deaths by mid-century. I believe Trump's rogue refusal to defuse the Bomb is an unfathomably heinous crime against humanity.

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