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Without the Southern Ocean we cannot survive on Earth. Our research must wait no longer

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Guardian or enjoy below

🗞️ Driving the news: The importance of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean for the planet's future is being underscored, given its critical role in the global climate system
• The region acts as a ventilation system for most of the world's deep oceans, and its ice sheet holds the potential to drastically alter global coastlines if melted

🔭 The context: For the past 40 years, Antarctic research has highlighted the pressing climate emergency the region is facing 
• The Australian Antarctic program, in partnership with the University of Tasmania, seeks to gather more data through collaborative research to inform policy decisions about climate change

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Every slight increase in global temperature and every tonne of carbon released not only affects Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, potentially triggering global repercussions, but also threatens the vast ice sheet covering east Antarctica, which, if melted, could transform our coastline and engulf our cities
• There's an urgent need for boots on the ground to study the drastic changes the region is undergoing

⏭️ What's next: Planned research voyages, like the one for the icebreaker RSV Nuyina, which was canceled, are critical to understanding the interactions between the ocean, ice, and atmosphere
• Australian scientists have not been on the sea ice in east Antarctica for a decade, and ensuring future missions is vital

💬 One quote: “It looks as though the Southern Ocean is shifting gear but we don’t yet know where it’s heading and what that means for us. That’s where our research comes in” (Nathan Bindoff, physical oceanographer and author)

📈 One stat: During the past winter, an area larger than Western Australia failed to freeze, signifying what might be a significant "regime shift" in the Southern Ocean

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change

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