European Space Agency (ESA) head Josef Aschbacher warned on Friday that the melting of polar ice caps and glaciers is very critical and called on political leaders to understand the importance of climate change.
Aschbacher spoke at the One Planet Polar Summit, the first international summit dedicated to glaciers and poles and attended by political leaders and researchers.
“The situation at the poles is very critical. We see with our satellites day and night how big the melting of the polar regions is, but also what the impact on sea level rise is. We have some of the most accurate satellite measurements to see how the sea level is rising due to melting polar regions, glaciers and so on,” Aschbacher said at the summit held in Paris.
“Climate is still the biggest crisis to deal with. It needs all the effort from everyone,” Aschbacher added.
The melting of polar ice has significant consequences for animals, particularly those used to cold environments. Polar bears, seals, and many bird species rely on sea ice for hunting, breeding, and resting. As ice melts, these species lose vital habitat, which can lead to population declines.
For the first time ever, global temperatures are more likely than not to breach 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming within the next five years, the World Meteorological Organization said in May. Aschbacher said record heatwaves and wildfires provide “really alarming” evidence of the pace of global warming.