Emirates News Agency – WAM report: UAE explorers witness alarming impact of climate change in Antarctica

By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, 6th July, 2022 (WAM) — A team of four Antarctic explorers from the United Arab Emirates are shocked by unprecedented events during their expedition that reveal the alarming impact of climate change on the icy continent.

The dwindling population of a tiny creature affecting all wildlife, the collapse of an ice shelf, record temperature and unseasonable rain during the recent expedition to the seventh continent are a serious cause for concern, they told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

A small creature tells a big story

“Antarctica made me think of life as an ecosystem. The shocking extreme events we have witnessed in a short time – historic temperature rise and rainy days on a desert continent – left us puzzled as to the fate of Antarctica and the globe,” says Athraa Khamis, Emirati water and environmental engineer at DP World’s Tumoohi program.

“The ecosystem was also shivering as the primary food for all of Antarctica’s fascinating wildlife – a shrimp-like crustacean called krill – losing their homes, the dry glaciers, which are melting due to global warming. They are being killed at cause of climate change. These ecosystem disorders would certainly affect life forms not only in Antarctica, but everywhere,” says Khamis, who was part of the 2022 International Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Robert Swan, the famous explorer who is the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles.

adventurous expedition

In April, about 177 environmental officials from 37 countries were on board the ship named “Ocean Victory” which sailed from Ushuaia deep in South America and passed through the Drake Passage, the most dangerous waterway in the world. and the site of many shipwrecks, before reaching Antarctica.

Before joining the expedition, Mahra Mohammed Al Murawwi, an Emirati who has just completed her honors degree in environmental geosciences from the University of Glasgow, had already been inspired by Swan’s speech at her university.

“I was mesmerized by all the talk and especially by the opportunity to be among those who will set foot in Antarctica”, reveals Al Murawwi.

Winston Cowie, head of marine policy at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), adds to the “shocking extreme events” mentioned by Khamis.

Three alarming events

“Three really concerning weather events happened in Antarctica while we were there. It was a very large ice floe,” says Cowie, a New Zealander who was part of the expedition’s leadership team.

In East Antarctica, the temperature was 40 degrees, a record temperature for this part of Antarctica which otherwise registers minus 11 degrees. This type of extreme temperature fluctuation had never been seen before, he points out.

“It rained on us when we were on the Antarctic Peninsula – I can vouch for that – it was a strange phenomenon and has only been seen in Antarctica for the past 25 years. These events are incredibly concerning,” explains cowie.

He had visited Antarctica in 2018 as part of EAD’s Zayed team which traveled with Sir Robert Swan and sent a message with solar lights to the world about climate change.

For Sayesha Dogra, a resident of Dubai, “The expedition was the ultimate boost for me to shift gears and jump into the world of climate tech solutions. I am developing a plan to start my journey entrepreneurial in this space.”

This inspired her and other explorers to do something to save the planet.

Action plan

Dogra plans to engage with Emirati youth to empower these future leaders to ‘think global and act local’ to control climate change, says the Indian national who works at Noon in Minutes, an e-commerce platform .

Khamis says, “I would step up my contribution by taking meaningful steps to engage in a battle for the future!

Al Murawwi wants to spread the message about climate change among students and campaign to include the topic in school curricula “because I believe climate education is no less important than other subjects.”

Cowie says he will continue to push for positive marine policy outcomes for the marine environment in Abu Dhabi and will be a voice for action on climate change in Antarctica. “What is happening there and how is relevant to the global net zero strategy.”

Teresa H. Sadler