This week, at an international forum in Hobart, Australia is looking to push for a million square kilometres of Antarctic Ocean that could be protected as a marine sanctuary. A similar suggestion had faced opposition at a meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The proposal was opposed by China and Russia.
According to the latest reports, the East Antarctic Marine Protected Area proposal is being co-sponsored by Australia, alongside the European Union. For the proposal to be a success, all members of the summit are required to support the cause. According to Australian Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, the country’s decision to pursue this cause is a mark of its commitment to protecting world heritage such as the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean.
The proposed sanctuary will also provide scientific reference zones that will contribute to research. The research will highlight the effects of fishing outside of protected areas and its consequences on climate change.
Credit: Getty Images
A recent finding has shed light on the fact that Antarctica is, in fact, melting from both above and below. Supposedly, upside-down rivers are melting its ice shelves from beneath. These so-called rivers are actually basal channels and are not fully understood by scientists yet. According to their understanding, the warm water circulation is attacking the underside of ice shelves. This is making the ice shelves vulnerable, even as the scientists opine that they do not have all the answers yet.
The ice shelves are important, and much of Antarctica (about three-quarters) is surrounded by these floating ice shelves. These ice shelves are actually floating extensions of land preventing glaciers from crashing into the sea.