Sea ice

Emma Monceaux

Adelaide, Australia

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Artist's Description

Human-generated carbon emissions are warming and acidifying oceans at an alarming rate, with melting sea ice just one of the many consequences of our changing climate. Melting sea ice paves the way for land-based ice (glaciers and ice sheets) to enter the oceans, causing sea levels to rise. Sea level rise is already flooding low-lying islands in the Pacific, making coastal areas uninhabitable and forcing communities to relocate. Coastal communities world-wide are also facing future inundation. A reduction in sea ice also opens up the Arctic sea to more fossil fuel extraction, adding fuel to the fire. Less sea ice reduces its reflective capacity, leaving darker ice-free areas of ocean absorbing more ultra violet light, leading to more ocean warming.

Even if we cut carbon emissions today, the carbon that we’ve already released into the atmosphere will continue to be absorbed by the oceans. An increase in ocean warming and acidifying is inevitable. How much warming can the oceans take before coral reefs and marine ecosystems collapse? Are we going to be prepared enough for inevitable coastal inundation? Will we accept climate refugees with open arms, whose homes and land is swallowed up by ocean? Are we going to stand by and allow our governments to under-perform on emissions reductions and continue to approve new carbon polluting coal mines?

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