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200 Years of Exploring Antarctica — the World’s Coldest, Most Forbidding and Most Peaceful Continent
By Dan Morgan
Antarctica is the remotest part of the world, but it is a hub of scientific discovery, international diplomacy and environmental change. It was officially discovered 200 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1820, when members of a Russian expedition sighted land in what is now known as the Fimbul Ice Shelf on the continent's east side.
The world awakened to the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, which scientists attributed it to ozone-depleting substances. Two years later, in Montreal, the world agreed to ban the halogen compounds causing the massive hole over Antarctica. Research now shows that those chemicals didn't just cut a hole in the ozone layer, they also warmed up the Arctic.
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It's time for low-level coastal communities to head for the hills. Once-in-a-hundred-years sea level events will be an annual occurrence by 2050.
Parts of the world's largest ice shelf are melting 10 times faster than the shelf's average rate, and this could have worrying implications for sea level rise.
There's good news and there's bad news. Two new studies focusing on ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland have revised down the worst-case scenario for the amount of sea level rise the world could see by 2100, but say the overall climate impacts of melt water entering the oceans could be devastating.
"The sea-level estimates maybe aren't as bad as we thought, but the climate predictions are worse," lead author of one of the studies and Antarctic Research Center of the University of Victoria, Wellington climate scientist Nick Golledge told National Geographic.