Nov 29, 2019

Tourism spike to Antarctica could accelerate warming in region, experts warn

Tourists visit South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, Nov. 8. Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images

40% more tourists are expected to flock to Antarctica this season compared to last year, AFP reports, citing data from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators.

Why it matters: Experts interviewed by the AFP believe that this increase in Antarctic tourism could pose a risk to the region, which is already contributing a growing amount to global sea level rise.

The big picture: Arctic and Antarctic sea ice fell to their lowest-recorded levels this July, according to NOAA, and microplastics have been detected in remote parts of the region. A study from earlier this year found that warming ocean waters — partially caused by human-caused climate change — are weakening ice shelves in Antarctica.

Where it stands: The average tourist trip to Antarctica generates over 5 tonnes of CO2 emissions per passenger, Michael Hall, expert on polar regions at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, told AFP.

  • Antarctica's melting ice could be accelerated by "soot or black carbon in the exhaust gases of the scientific and cruise ships going to the region," Soenke Diesener, transport policy officer at German conservation NGO Nabu, told AFP.

Go deeper: Antarctica is losing ice 6 times faster than in 1980s

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A warming Arctic may have global consequences

Children in Newtok, Alaska, Oct. 2019. Thawing permafrost and flooding have forced the community to move to Mertarvik. Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Arctic's thawing permafrost could release an estimated 300 million to 600 million tons of net carbon into the atmosphere each year, according to NOAA's 2019 Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Consequences of ongoing changes in the Arctic's climate — accelerated by warming air temperatures and dwindling sea ice — will result in "altered weather patterns, increased greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels," the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

Search teams find debris near where Chilean Air Force plane vanished

Relatives of the Chilean Air Force crash victims at Chabunco army base in Punta Arenas, Chile, on Wednesday. Photo: Joel Estay/AFP via Getty Images

Search teams have found debris believed to be from a Chilean military cargo plane that vanished while carrying 38 people en route to Antarctica, Chile's Air Force said in a statement Wednesday.

The big picture: Officials believe the plane crashed while flying to the country's base in the icy continent. The wreckage was found floating in the "treacherous" waters of Drake's Passage, between Antarctica and Chile, 19 miles from where the C-130 Hercules plane last made contact on Tuesday, AP reports.

G0 deeper: Chilean Air Force plane carrying 38 crashes on way to Antarctica

Keep ReadingArrowDec 12, 2019

Chilean Air Force plane carrying 38 crashes on way to Antarctica

A Chilean Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules at Santiago airport in March. Photo: Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Chile's Air Force on Tuesday said a military cargo plane carrying 38 people crashed while flying to the country's base in Antarctica, Reuters reports.

The latest: Search and rescue crews have not located the plane, but the Air Force concluded that the aircraft crashed based on the number of hours it has been missing. The C-130 Hercules was carrying 17 crew members and 21 passengers when it lost contact with operators. Three civilians were on board, per AP.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Dec 10, 2019