Goa and The Crimson Tide of Climate Change

By Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
18 July 2021 14:00 IST


Opened the Guardian.com today and I was greeted by the news that evolutionary scientists have reached a conclusion that human body size is changing slowly due to climate change. It was long klnown that humans as well as animals in colder climate have greater body mass as compared to those in warmer climate. So, a person from the temperate region is generally bigger and heftier than a person from the warmer tropics.

On 20th May 2021, European Space Agency reported via satellite imagery that a 4320 sq. km chunk of ice (about the size of Spanish island of Majorca) has broken off from Western Antarctica into the Wendell Sea. This chunk was named A – 76, the largest iceberg in the world. It is the latest in a series of large ice blocks to dislodge in this region which is acutely vulnerable to climate change. From time to time, when the shearing stresses exceed the strength of ice, cracks form and large parts of the ice sheet separate from the ice shelf. This process is called CALVING. Ice shelf is a large body of floating ice. There are two major ice shelves in Antarctica – the Ronne Filchner Ice Shelf (4 lakh 30 thousand sq. km) and the Ross Ice Shelf (5 lakh 809 sq. km or about the size of France). Global warming decreases the strength of ice vis a vis the shearing stresses on ice. Ever since
October 1998, when another much smaller iceberg (A – 38, 150 km by 50 km) calved from the Ronne Filchner Ice Shelf, scientists have been observing increasing number of icebergs appearing in the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere.

Science believes that sea level rise due to global warming is due to two reasons:
1. Melting ice
2. Direct expansion of sea water due to warming.
There is widespread consensus among climate scientists that the sea level rise lags well
behind the temperature increase that triggers it. This means that substantial, long term sea
level rise will continue for centuries to come even if the temperature change stabilizes.
So significant is this process of sea level rise due to climate change that a study in Nature by
scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research in Germany, done
as a part of the massive, intergovernmental Ice2Sea Project predicts disappearance of 4 lakh
50 thousand sq. km of ice shelf in Antarctica in the next 50 years which would indirectly add
4.4 millimetres of rise in sea level EACH YEAR.
Europe is already building fortifications to protect its key cities against the sea level rise.
They have an entire intergovernmental Ice2Sea Project dedicated to this.
What about Goa ? Are we prepared for the rise in sea level?


Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.

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