Al Gore and Richard Branson continued their fact-finding mission to Antarctica yesterday by visiting the Weddell Sea.

The pair are on the frozen continent to witness first-hand the effects of climate change, with Gore comparing what he finds with what he saw when he last visited Antarctica 22 years ago.

“Like the rest of the Southern Ocean, the body of water that surrounds Antarctica, [the Weddell Sea] is home to diverse ecosystems that are filled with unique and astonishing wildlife,” blogged Gore. "And like oceans everywhere, the impacts of climate change are becoming more apparent.

“As the world warms, its waters are warming, too. Increased temperatures have already led to changes in ocean life. For example, on the other side of the Peninsula, king crabs have invaded an area previously considered far too cold for their survival. The impact of the arrival of these predators, for the first time in millions of years, could be catastrophic for the surrounding ecosystem, which has evolved exotic and unique life forms that have no defenses against crabs.

“Unfortunately, scientists are observing not only changes to the oceans’ temperature but also to its chemistry. The Weddell Sea – and the rest of the Southern Ocean – is experiencing what scientists call ocean acidification. Currently, about a quarter of the carbon dioxide released each year by human activities is absorbed by the world’s oceans. The Southern Ocean alone absorbs more than 40% of that due to the frigid temperatures of its waters. As the concentration of carbon dioxide increases, the water becomes more acidic.

“The climate crisis is a problem of multiple dimensions. Rising ocean temperatures alone have the potential to disrupt the web of life in the ocean. Acidifying oceans, a result of the same carbon dioxide pollution that is warming our planet, are magnifying the problem even further.”

Sir Richard Branson also blogged about the changes: "The planet is changing before our eyes. We are heating it up. The governor of Texas will say “this is an act of God”. In fact this is an act of man.

“As Jim Hansen the scientist said on this ship: ‘We cannot continue to burn all the coal, oil from the tar sands without pushing the planet out of control. It’s time to stop subsidising fossil fuels. The quickest way of solving the problem is to tax all fossil fuels and distribute the taxes back to every man and woman in the country. Within 10 years we’d have a 30% reduction in fuel use and begin to get on top of this most worrying of problems.’”

Find out more about the expedition here.

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