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07
AUG
5pm

How the climate crisis disproportionately affects women

Every year Women’s Month rolls around in South Africa and the public is once again confronted by depressing statistics of gender-based violence, sexism in the workplace and everyday discrimination on the street. Many people turn a blind eye, their capacity for compassion having expired, or roll their eyes, thinking it’s another woke or performative article pushing for discrimination that no longer exists in the 21st century.
Social contexts mean people are affected by things such as the climate crisis in disproportionate ways. And in Africa, there are many concrete examples of how women especially are affected by climate change.
As part of Women’s Month, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) hosted a webinar on Friday, 6 August, on the impact of climate change on women.
Panellist Thandile Chinyavanhu, a social and climate activist and campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, explained that not everyone responded to or was affected by climate change in the same way.
“A stimulus may be the same, but due to our social contexts, we may respond to it very differently,” she said.
Here are some ways women in Africa are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis:
Agriculture and land
Christopher Trisos, a senior researcher of the African Climate and Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town, was the coordinating lead author of the Africa chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) sixth assessment report. He gave Our Burning Planet insight into how climate change disproportionately affects women.
As the majority of the African workforce works in agriculture and most of African agriculture is rain-fed, this majority was vulnerable to climate hazards such as droughts and extreme heat, Trisos explained.
Not all countries in Africa have a majority female agriculture workforce, but many women in Africa rely on subsistence farming or work in the agriculture sector. Trisos emphasised that very few of these women own the land or farms that they work on.
In the GCIS webinar, Chinyavanhu agreed that land tenure was an important vulnerability for women. In many rural communities in South Africa, there was still a system of communal land ownership, which affected women’s interaction with land and land tenure.
Both Trisos and Chinyavanhu said this structural issue affected women’s livelihoods as well as access to climate resilience and adaptation assistance after climate shocks.
“The connection to land and climate is very pivotal because access to land provides a sense of resilience; it is a form of currency,” Chinyavanhu said. “When you don’t ...
07
AUG
4pm

Nancy Pelosi’s Magical Mystery Taiwan Tour – and its global aftermath

US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s quick stopover in Taipei has raised Chinese hackles, buoyed Taiwanese spirits, and put a spotlight on more questions than there are – yet – answers.
A quick but high-visibility visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi – a Democratic Party congresswoman from San Francisco, California – to Taipei, has become the latest disruptive factor in American-Chinese relations.
It has also given the Taiwanese some difficult but important things to think hard about, especially once the Chinese carried out a vast, island-straddling live-fire exercise that included missiles, naval vessels and fighter jets.
So far, at least, much of the breathless commentary and reporting on the visit and its aftermath has painted this sequence of events as likely to be the proximate cause for a new zone of hostilities – or, even, with some of the most breathless, the spark poised to ignite a new war in the Pacific Basin. Not so fast. Things are obviously dangerous, but much of this has been something of a mutual chest-beating of choice.
First, let’s deal with some basics. Taiwan is a smallish island – about half the size of Scotland and a little bigger than the US state of Maryland – off the southeastern coast of China that has, over the centuries, been home to indigenous Taiwanese, bands of Chinese pirates, Portuguese and Dutch colonists.
More recently, after the assertion of a territorial claim by the Manchu dynasty in China, the island became Japanese territory after that country’s defeat in the Sino-Chinese War of 1895.
With the defeat of Japan in World War 2, the island was awarded back to China, then rather shakily ruled by Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) Party.
However, as the KMT was driven from power by the Chinese Communist Party and its army, Chiang’s government fled the mainland and set up shop on Taiwan – crucially maintaining the notional concept they were still the legitimate Chinese government, including the hanging on to China’s seat on the UN Security Council as a permanent member.
Diplomatic recognition
With the loss of its seat on the Security Council in 1971, and then the establishment of full diplomatic recognition by the US of the Beijing government in 1979, Taiwan’s claim to represent all of China lost its main basis. Its diplomatic presence is now limited to a few scattered, small nations, largely in the South Pacific.
Many nations, including the US, the UK ...
07
AUG
3pm

Grain shipments kick into higher gear; nuclear plant shelled again

A second caravan of vessels sailed early on Sunday from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports carrying grains and foodstuffs, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said. The first incoming cargo ship since the signing of a safe-transit agreement last month reached port and is ready to load. A corn cargo expected to arrive in Lebanon has been delayed.
Ukraine said Russia shelled areas around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again on Saturday. The head of the UN’s atomic agency has warned of “potentially catastrophic consequences” of military action around the plant. Russia has denied involvement.
Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met on Friday, as Ankara pushes for a mediating role to try to help end the war in Ukraine following its breakthrough deal on grain exports. Erdoğan said five Turkish banks have adopted Russia’s Mir payments system.
Key developments
Nuclear plant disaster in Ukraine is ‘very real risk,’ IAEA says
Ukraine blasts watchdog claim that its army endangers civilians
Grain corridors still need ships to ease food crisis
Turkish banks are adopting Russian payments system, Erdoğan says
On the ground
Ukraine’s general staff reported Russian artillery shelling in the direction of Kharkiv “along the entire line of contact.” Kyiv’s forces repelled Russian assaults in several eastern areas and fighting continues in some of them. Russia also fired from tanks and artillery along the contact line in the South Buh direction and conducted air strikes near Andriyivka, Bilohirka and Velyke Artakovo. Ukrainian aviation and missile and artillery units continue attacking concentrations of Russian manpower, equipment and ammunition warehouses, it said. Russian air defences shot down Ukrainian drones in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions in the past day, the Defence Ministry in Moscow said, adding that its forces also struck Ukrainian ammunition storage in the Donetsk and Mykolaiv regions.
US senators seek Russian terror state designation
Two US senators renewed a bipartisan call for President Joe Biden’s administration to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.
“The administration should, in effect, say to Russia, we’re making you a pariah, like Iran and Cuba,” Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal said on CNN’s State of the Union. The designation would mean in part that “you can go to American courts and sue Russia for the damage done in Ukraine,” South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham said.
Blumenthal and Graham championed a Senate resolution passed in July that calls on the administration to designate Russia. It cites a series of military actions under President Vladimir Putin, including the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine reports second ...
07
AUG
6am

Never-ending rugby season is the biggest threat to player welfare

Where is South African rugby right now in terms of its season and scheduling? It’s a question that very few stop to consider, even though the number of competitive games – as well as the incessant calls for improved player management and welfare – increase with each passing calendar year.
South African rugby continues to straddle two hemispheres, and thus two rugby seasons. The demands on the players will only increase in the coming months, and in the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup. Something’s gotta give.
Other nations have voiced their concerns about the number of games at club and international level, and have called for a more streamlined approach to the scheduling.
This past week, the concussion campaign group Progressive Rugby – which comprises a number of medical experts and former Test players – sent World Rugby a list of recommendations that could improve player welfare and reduce the risk of serious injuries.
The group has called for the establishment of a global calendar, a change to the tackle laws, and a reduction in the number of games (25) to be played over the course of a season.
South African rugby, however, is in a unique situation.
From famine to feast after Covid
South Africa’s best players have enjoyed few opportunities to rest over the past two years. When the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in September 2020, the players bounced from one tournament to another in an attempt to regain form and fitness.
Super Rugby Unlocked was succeeded by the Currie Cup and yet another domestic competition dubbed “the Preparation Series”. The inter-hemisphere Rainbow Cup was followed by the British & Irish Lions tour, which was followed a week later by the Rugby Championship.
The end of that Sanzaar tournament overlapped with the start of the inaugural United Rugby Championship. The Springboks had a brief break before going into a preparation camp ahead of a three-Test tour of the United Kingdom.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Southern Hemisphere rugby plays a dangerous game with 20-minute red card trial”
Thereafter, South Africa’s elite players were given an opportunity to rest, before being drafted back into their URC sides. Some of the players based at clubs in England and France, however, did not enjoy a lengthy reprieve.
The URC culminated with the Stormers beating the Bulls in the final on 18 June. Thereafter, the Stormers and Bulls players joined their Bok teammates in camp to prepare for a three-Test series against Wales.
The ...
05
AUG
4am

Retire? ‘Don’t even ask me that’ – Ndodomzi Ntutu rolls back the years to win 100m para gold

Star para-athlete Ndodomzi Ntutu ran close to his best time in securing a superb gold medal at Birmingham 2022.
At the age of 36, Ndodomzi “Jonathan” Ntutu turned back the clock. Right back to 10.83 seconds. Enough to win another Commonwealth Games T11/12 100m gold medal. Quicker than he ran when winning the title in 11.02 on the Gold Coast four years ago. The fastest para-athlete South Africa has produced to date did it again.
Ntutu, who suffers from toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, was understandably emotional even after he’d spent at least 10 minutes soaking up the love from the crowd at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
“This year has been especially tough. I’ve got two kids and a wife and things haven’t been good financially. At the same time I’d have to listen and hear what the coach has to say and what needs to be done and when.
“The training regimen has been tough, but I believe in the coach and I believe in God and I prayed that things would get better sooner rather than later. Here I am standing, having run 10.8 two days in a row.
“They’re the two fastest times I’ve run in my career. Retirement? Don’t even ask me that. I’ll take it year by year and listen to my body.”
Echoes of a golden year
In the semifinal 36 hours earlier, Ntutu had hit the line in 10.89, which is not far behind his all-time best of 10.80. It qualified him fastest into the final, where his main danger for gold appeared to be Zachary Shaw, who had produced a 11.01 in qualifying. And that’s how it panned out, as the English favourite chased Ntutu home in 10.90 in the four-man final.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “‘If it were not for judo, I would probably have dropped out of school,’ says SA’s latest gold medal winner”
Four years ago, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, Ntutu had lowered his best time down to 10.80. It was a golden year for the South African in many respects – he was named South Africa’s Sportsman of the Year with a Disability and recorded the fastest time run by a South African para-athlete.
Despite competing in four Paralympics, his best moment came at those 2018 Commonwealth Games where he won gold in the T12 100m.
“That was a proud top-of-the-podium occasion. Jumping on to that podium was my very happiest moment. My ...
04
AUG
4pm

‘Hardline decisions’ by new Oxfam SA director spark protest by partners and stakeholders

A protest outside Oxfam South Africa in Johannesburg this week has cast a shadow over the internal stability of the social justice organisation. At issue are claims of impropriety that include the abrupt termination of projects. The organisation’s new leadership has hit back at its critics, pointing to change and restructuring that it says are aimed at tightening ‘weak controls’.
A number of partners and stakeholders of Oxfam South Africa (OZA) protested on Monday at the Oxfam offices in Killarney, Johannesburg.
The protest was directed at Oxfam South Africa’s board of directors, with protesters alleging a litany of problems at the organisation since Lebogang Ramafoko’s appointment as executive director in April.
Ramafoko was the CEO of the Soul City Institute for Social Justice, based in Johannesburg, from 2011 until 2020. After stepping down as CEO of Soul City in 2020, she helmed the advocacy organisation Tekano in Cape Town before joining Oxfam SA.
“Oxfam SA faces an internal revolt over the dictatorship of the newly appointed Oxfam SA director, Lebogang Ramafoko over her hardline decisions including cancelling support to community programmes that were planned and budgeted [for a] long time ago, before she came,” is among the claims made in a protest media release.
However, OZA has claimed otherwise, saying it is in the process of “restructuring and improving a number of its programme and operational procedures,” following Ramafoko’s appointment.
About 20 partners and stakeholders gathered on Monday to protest over the challenges faced by the organisation and its partners. During the protest, a memorandum detailing the partners’ concerns was handed over to Oxfam management, said Lucky Shabalala, the coordinator of Sisonke Environmental Justice Network, one of Oxfam’s partners in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The director was not at the office, but the head of programmes was present, and she took and signed to have received [the memorandum] on behalf of Oxfam,” he said.
Oxfam South Africa is a social justice organisation that works in partnership with grassroots organisations on issues pertaining to women’s rights and gender justice, economic justice, environmental and climate justice, and democracy and governance.
This is done through “long-term development programming”, and OZA works for the “socially excluded and most marginalised communities by mobilising them to campaign for greater economic and social reforms”.
Oxfam International was formed in 1995 by a group of independent non-government organisations. There are 21 member organisations of the Oxfam International confederation, in countries including India, Germany, Hong Kong and South Africa.
Oxfam raises funds based ...
04
AUG
4pm

Independent media in Africa plays a critical public interest role and must be supported

It is in lower-income countries where a stronger independent media is most vital. Public newspapers and broadcasters are not the answer. While many countries have national news services, they are usually poorly resourced and seen as propaganda platforms.
Social media was once seen as the disruption traditional media needed. It certainly did disrupt. Trust in democracies and institutions has diminished, misinformation has proliferated, and public debates have descended into shouting matches.
Economically, social media eroded the business models that funded public interest journalism – the style of reporting that holds governments to account and informs the public on the issues that shape lives and enable debate (the vital reporting which, for reference, brought us Watergate, the News of the World hacking scandal, and the Pandora Papers leak).
Without action, we will lose this vital pillar of our democracies, and in some countries, we may already be too late.
The demise began slowly, almost imperceptibly. Consumers bought fewer newspapers, opting for the convenience of online. As consumers moved online, so did the classifieds, the original “rivers of gold” that kept the printing presses running and journalists on their respective beats. As revenue declined, savings were found – journalists and editors were usually the first to go, after which print runs were reduced, or removed entirely.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw revenues decline further – the global loss in revenue for newspapers in 2020 was estimated at $30-million. As revenues decreased, audiences flocked to trusted news brands. The BBC gained an extra 20 million people each week, delivering a weekly global audience of almost half a billion adults.
Outlets also saw unprecedented growth in digital subscriptions. Digital subscribers to The Guardian increased by 43%, while The Atlantic attracted more than 300,000 new subscribers – three times the number it was expecting after raising a paywall.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Does journalism have a place in contemporary society? This is what young reporters have to say”
After a bumpy start, where audiences looked for opportunities to dodge paywalls, digital subscriptions are helping to plug the revenue gap for many media houses. The New York Times, for example, now boasts 10 million subscribers, with the majority paying for digital products. Critically, the growth in subscribers is delivering profitability.
Subscriptions accounted for $1.4-billion of The New York Times’s $2.1-billion in revenue last year. The Financial Times, which offers a more targeted product, is seeing similar success, with digital journalism revenues equal to all other ...
04
AUG
3pm

Conditions at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ‘out of control’; Zelensky seeks direct talks with China’s Xi

Shelling by Russian forces reportedly killed civilians in the eastern region of Donetsk as the Kremlin pressed ahead with its campaign, while a US think tank said Moscow was holding a Ukrainian nuclear plant to play off Western fears of an atomic disaster.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday that conditions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine are “out of control”. Meanwhile, president Volodymyr Zelensky urged China’s Xi Jinping to agree to direct talks, saying Beijing hadn’t replied to such requests since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
A vessel was heading for Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port to load grain for export, the first incoming ship there since the start of Russia’s invasion.
Key developments
Zelensky seeks direct talks with Xi amid war with Russia
Oil plunges to lowest since February as US gasoline demand drops
Putin’s courting of Israel fades as ties turn bitter on Ukraine
On the ground
Russian troops shelled Toretsk, a small Ukrainian-held city in Donetsk, on Thursday morning killing eight people and wounding four, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. Russians fired at a bus stop, church and apartment blocks, he wrote. Ukraine’s northern city of Kharkiv, the southern port of Mykolaiv, and Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region were shelled overnight, local authorities said. Russian forces conducted a limited ground attack northwest of Slovyansk and continued efforts to advance on Bakhmut from the northeast, east, and southeast. Russian forces were forming a strike group to prevent Ukrainian counteroffensives in the northern part of the Kherson region.
Russian court sentences US basketball star to nine years on drug charges
A Moscow court convicted US basketball star Brittney Griner on drug charges and sentenced her to nine years in prison, raising the stakes in deadlocked talks between Russia and the US on a possible prisoner exchange involving the basketball star.
“The court found the defendant guilty,” Judge Anna Sotnikov said, according to the Interfax news service. Prosecutors sought a 9½-year term, close to the maximum.
War to further widen global current-account balances, IMF says
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lingering impacts of the pandemic will widen global current-account balances for a third year in 2022, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Current accounts — the broadest measure of a country’s trade in goods and services, expressed as either a deficit or surplus — had been narrowing for several years until Covid-19 upended patterns of demand and trade. The widening continued last year as economic recovery raised ...
03
AUG
5pm

Bar Bain & Co from SA government work until it makes full disclosure, says whistle-blower Athol Williams

Pretoria should follow the UK’s example by blacklisting the global consultancy until it had made full disclosure and full amends, Williams said.
Athol Williams, who blew the whistle on the complicity of Bain & Co in Jacob Zuma’s State Capture, says the global consultancy must be barred from winning any South African government contracts until it has made full disclosure of its work in South Africa and made amends.
Williams told Daily Maverick that this should include firing all staff who had been involved in the State Capture of the SA Revenue Service (SARS).
Williams has welcomed the British government’s ban on Bain & Co receiving UK government contracts for three years because of its complicity in State Capture.
The minister in the British Cabinet Office, Jacob Rees-Mogg, announced the ban on US-based Bain & Co on Wednesday. Former anti-apartheid activist Lord Peter Hain, who had pushed Rees-Mogg to take that action, welcomed the decision and said he would now put pressure on the US to do the same.
Williams worked with Hain on his campaign against Bain and briefed Rees-Mogg with Hain last month about the company’s activities in South Africa, particularly its complicity in helping Zuma crony, the former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane, undermine SARS and prevent it from pursuing tax offenders.
‘Great personal and financial cost’
Williams was working for Bain & Co during the time of State Capture. Hain told the House of Lords last month that Williams had “acted with integrity to offer them guidance in taking the right action and then, owing to their refusal, was forced to blow the whistle, at great personal and financial cost.
“Mr Williams testified before the Zondo Commission and was praised by the commission in its report, but bears the burden of Bain’s defamation. He has now fled to the UK for his safety,” Hain said.
Williams told Daily Maverick on Wednesday that despite Bain & Co’s claim that just a few rotten apples were responsible for its role in State Capture, its actions had been endorsed all the way up the chain of command, to the UK office and to the head office in Boston.
He said that when he met Rees-Mogg with Hain in London last month he gave him the names of people who were still in the company and had been in the South African office during the State Capture era. He gave the names of people who had worked on public sector contracts.
“And ...
03
AUG
5pm

UN chief blasts ‘immoral’ oil and gas profits; Romania says Nato must dig in for long deployment in east

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres skewered global energy companies, saying it’s ‘immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis’ spawned by the war in Ukraine. He called for nations to impose excess profit taxes.
Romania’s prime minister warned Nato allies that they will have to maintain an expanded troop presence on their eastern flank for at least the medium term as Russia appears intent on creating a buffer between itself and the Western military alliance.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz blamed Moscow for a delay in shipping a turbine for Gazprom’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline that’s at the heart of Europe’s gas crisis. The Kremlin responded by saying that the component, which is at a facility in Germany after undergoing routine maintenance in Canada, lacks documentation proving that it isn’t subject to sanctions.
Key developments
Putin’s courting of Israel fades as ties turn bitter on Ukraine
World’s food supply faces new threat as India rice crop falters
European gas swings as traders seek clarity on Russian flows
On the ground
The southern port of Mykolaiv and the city of Kharkiv in the northeast were shelled again overnight, local authorities said. In the Donetsk region, Russian forces are concentrating attacks toward Bakhmut to the north of the regional capital, Ukraine’s general staff reported. Russian forces launched two assaults in the northern Kherson region and are continuing to redeploy troops to the south, according to the latest assessment from the Institute for the Study of War.
UN chief blasts ‘immoral’ oil and gas company profits
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, tore into global energy companies, saying it’s “immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities, at a massive cost to the climate”.
Saying that the largest energy companies together tallied first-quarter profits of “close to $100-billion” amid the turmoil of the war in Ukraine, the secretary-general urged countries “to tax these excessive profits, and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times”.
In remarks to the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, Guterres repeated his calls for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine, which he said had caused not only suffering in that country, but a global “threefold crisis of access to food, energy and finance”.
Switzerland makes oil payment exemptions from sanctions
The Swiss government said it will match European Union sanctions on ...
03
AUG
5pm

Talking heads: An eruption of new technologies, coming to a public square near you

Unlike many other industries, a good portion of deep crypto thinking happens on Twitter and YouTube and podcasts. This layer of public social media crypto erudition is not only interesting for the depth of thought, but also because this is the first technological revolution to air its discourse so widely, given the extraordinary expansion of social media users over the past 10 years.
There is a classic scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian in which the camera roams around a dusty public square in the Holy Land while multiple would-be seers and prophets dressed in white robes confidently but inarticulately proclaim the future to gormless bystanders. Mostly they are blithering fools, but very funny to watch.
There is a similar digital public square in crypto, with a lot of prognosticators competing for attention, respect, likes and follows. Some are blithering fools (including the usual how-to-get-rich-fast crowd and the breathless techno-utopianists). But many are extremely smart — and sometimes in furious disagreement with one another.
Unlike many other industries, a good portion of deep crypto thinking happens on Twitter and YouTube and podcasts. Here, I am talking about those who carefully analyse, ruminate and consider what all of this crypto-fueled innovation means and where it is taking us. I am talking about cryptocurrencies, Defi, Metaverse, DAOs, NFTs, Web3 and other shiny new creatures of the blockchain.
This layer of public social media crypto erudition is not only interesting for the depth of thought, but also because this is the first technological revolution to air its discourse so widely, given the extraordinary expansion of social media users over the past 10 years. Prior to this, one could go on TV or radio or write a book or blog or article. Now you compose a Tweet thread or start a YouTube channel or go on podcasts.
One of these people is Josh Rosenthal (@JoshuaRosenthal) who popped on to my radar recently. He is a PhD, Fulbright Scholar, Harvard guest lecturer, polymathic sort of guy — history, health science, public policy, data analytics, crypto. You know, an all-rounder genius.
But what really strikes me about Dr Rosenthal (his demeanour makes it likely that he hates being called that), is his ability to structure an unbroken seven-minute answer to a 10-second question — expertly pitched, well-structured, narratively arced to perfection.
And here is what he has said, of late.
Renaissance
Rosenthal has a specific interest in the Renaissance. He describes the accretion of ...
03
AUG
4pm

Troubling new research shows warm waters rushing towards the world’s biggest ice sheet in Antarctica

Warmer waters are flowing towards the East Antarctic ice sheet, according to our alarming new research which reveals a potential new driver of global sea-level rise.
The research, published on 2 August 2022 in Nature Climate Change, shows changing water circulation in the Southern Ocean may be compromising the stability of the East Antarctic ice sheet. The ice sheet, about the size of the US, is the largest in the world.
The changes in water circulation are caused by shifts in wind patterns, and linked to factors including climate change. The resulting warmer waters and sea-level rise may damage marine life and threaten human coastal settlements.
Our findings underscore the urgency of limiting global warming to below 1.5℃, to avert the most catastrophic climate harms.
Ice sheets and climate change
Ice sheets comprise glacial ice that has accumulated from precipitation over land. Where the sheets extend from the land and float on the ocean, they are known as ice shelves.
It’s well known that the West Antarctic ice sheet is melting and contributing to sea-level rise. But until now, far less was known about its counterpart in the east.
Our research focused offshore on a region known as the Aurora Subglacial Basin in the Indian Ocean. This area of frozen sea ice forms part of the East Antarctic ice sheet.
How this basin will respond to climate change is one of the largest uncertainties in projections of sea-level rise this century. If the basin melted fully, global sea levels would rise by 5.1m.
Much of the basin is below sea level, making it particularly sensitive to ocean melting. That’s because deep seawater requires lower temperatures to freeze than shallower seawater.
What we found
We examined 90 years of oceanographic observations off the Aurora Subglacial Basin. We found unequivocal ocean warming at a rate of up to 2℃ to 3℃ since the earlier half of the 20th century. This equates to 0.1℃ to 0.4℃ per decade.
The warming trend has tripled since the 1990s, reaching a rate of 0.3℃ to 0.9℃ each decade.
So, how is this warming linked to climate change? The answer relates to a belt of strong westerly winds over the Southern Ocean. Since the 1960s, these winds have been moving south towards Antarctica during years when the Southern Annular Mode, a climate driver, is in a positive phase.
The phenomenon has been partly attributed to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As a result, westerly winds are moving closer to Antarctica ...

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