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Journey to Antarctica, a continent under threat

FRANCE 24 brings you a rare special report from the South Pole. Our reporters climbed aboard the French polar ship Astrolabe and followed an expedition of scientists measuring the consequences of global warming in Adélie Land, Antarctica. Their findings are unequivocal.

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It takes a week of travelling to reach Antarctica, the most isolated continent on the planet. On the Australian island of Tasmania, we boarded the Astrolabe, a scientific vessel that is used to supply Adélie Land, Antarctian territory claimed by France. On board, we travelled with a dozen French scientists studying the effects of global warming.

After five days of sailing, the most delicate part of the journey begins, in the midst of melted ice floes and giant icebergs. The French captain has to be on permanent alert in order to clear a path through the ice. The landscapes are breathtaking: at sunset, the ice is adorned with hundreds of colours. Around the boat, passengers can see seals and penguins fishing.

We then witness the dramatic effects of global warming. Summer temperatures now regularly exceed zero degrees  – and it starts raining instead of snowing, which is a disaster for young penguins since their feathers are not yet waterproof. When temperatures drop at night, they die en masse. In the Antarctic Peninsula and other parts of the continent, penguins have completely disappeared.

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