Every year 5 thousand meteorites fall in Antarctica: scientists sound the alarm over their disappearance

Maria ShevchukNews
Meteorites disappear in Antarctica due to melting ice. Source: pexels.com

60% of the meteorites that hit the Earth are found near the South Pole as black stones are clearly visible on the white continent. But soon they may not be seen even there, and the reason for this is rising temperatures.

As a result of climate change, most of Antarctica is turning into soft slush. On such a surface, meteorites sink faster and do not always allow researchers to find them, IFLScience writes.

More meteorites will disappear

Scientists have found that 5000 celestial bodies are lost every year due to ice melting. In the glacial part of the continent, from 300,000 to 850,000 meteorites are waiting to be found. But it is likely that they will be swallowed up as the climate continues to change towards warming.

Current human activity can lead to an increase in air temperature by 2.6 - 2.7°C, which will cause about 30% of meteorites to disappear. The figure could soon rise to 75% if states do not change their climate policies, experts warn.

Why does the planet need meteorites?

Fewer meteorites mean less knowledge about the solar system and other galaxies.

Most meteorites come from various satellites, planets, and asteroids. When they hit the Earth, they provide scientists with an invaluable sample of celestial material that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

For example, last month, scientists described in detail a meteorite found in Antarctica that contains a rare dust particle older than our Sun. The extremely high isotopic ratio of the meteorite indicates that it was formed as a result of an unusual supernova (a star that increases its brightness billions of times during an explosion) that burns hydrogen.

This information allows us to understand ancient cosmic events beyond the Milky Way. Thus, along with the rocks, humanity risks losing a number of reliable facts about the existence of our planet and galaxy in the Universe.

Kevin Righter, curator of Antarctic meteorites and a planetary scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center, explains in News & Views that people should seriously step up efforts to collect meteorite samples. Otherwise, it will be too late.

"Meteorites that have disappeared may turn out to be a lost resource for the study of cosmic bodies and phenomena. This will lead to serious gaps in our fundamental understanding of the Earth's place in the solar system, as well as the origin and evolution of planets, asteroids, potential collisions; the genesis of organic matter and components that allow life to flourish on our planet," Righter explains.

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