Antarctica’s fifth age? Some supporting evidence (2018)
Ten years ago, Alan Hemmings proposed that Antarctica had entered a Fifth Age identified by a much more complex global context. This paper examines evidence from recent biophysical and socio-economic literature on the Antarctic which show an increasing number of papers identifying changes which appear, at least in part, to be attributable to global change processes. These are often in highly specialised topics that are identified as exhibiting early stages of potentially significant transformations with specific changes mooted and, in some cases, projected out several decades or more. Collectively these provide early indications of a shift to the Anthropocene, estimated, by some sources, as having started in the post-war period and coinciding with establishment of the Antarctic Treaty and the concept of setting Antarctica aside for peace and science. Papers published over the last decade or so have been selected that identify specific significant changes in Antarctica in the coming decades as identified by PCAS presenters. The papers are classified according to the criteria established in the global climate change scenarios architecture. The review then identifies that there is evidence of a Fifth Age but that it needs much more nuanced research than thisinitial overview.
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