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pdf WP017: Antarctic and Southern Ocean Climate Change in a Global Context


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WP017: Antarctic and Southern Ocean Climate Change in a Global Context

ATCM XLIII and CEP XXIII 2021, Paris, France / Online

Working Paper

WP017: Antarctic and Southern Ocean Climate Change in a Global Context

Submitted: 28 April 2021


Climate change and its impacts are of much concern globally and to the Antarctic Treaty System given realised and expected impacts on global sea level rise and biodiversity.

The recent Special Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provide the clearest recent summaries of global climate change that has taken place, impacts that are being realised, and changes that are projected.

Attention is drawn here to key findings from these IPCC Special Reports, focussing on substantial uncertainties about global and Antarctic impacts; and to the research being undertaken through SCAR to address these uncertainties. The paper presented here is not intended as a comprehensive synthesis.

Key uncertainties include the current and future behaviour of the Antarctic cryosphere (especially implications for global sea level and coastal populations and infrastructure); climatic variability over short timescales which is especially important given its significance for impacts and operational forecasts; and the future of marine and terrestrial Antarctic biodiversity, approaches to improve its conservation, and ways to mitigate climate change impacts on both.

Quantifying and reducing these uncertainties through focussed research is critical.

More critical is the need to convey to Treaty nations the importance of the Paris Climate Agreement, and expected strengthening of greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets, for maintaining Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments and their biodiversity as they have come to be known over the 60 years of the Antarctic Treaty.


ATCM - Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
CEP - Committee for Environmental Protection
43rd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting
14 - 24 June 2021