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New Zealand announces plans to conserve Edmund Hillary’s Antarctic hut

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Agencies

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced a plan to conserve mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist and one of the first persons to climb Mount Everest, Edmund Hillary’s hut in Antarctica, on Tuesday.

Hillary and Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. He was also the first person to reach both the North and the South Poles.

Hillary’s Hut, known as Hut A, is part of New Zealand’s first scientific facility at Scott Base and is recognised as a historic monument under the Antarctic Treaty. It is the original remaining building established for the country’s involvement in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1955-58 and the International Geophysical Year 1957-58.

Prime Minister John Key announced the plan to conserve Hillary’s Hut at an event hosted by Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry, the New Zealand Herald reported. The event involved surviving members of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1955-58 and the International Geophysical Year 1957-58 and members of Hillary’s family.

The conservation plan for the hut was written by a team of authors under the leadership of conservation architect Chris Cochran, and peer reviewed by international experts. In 2012, the trust signed a memorandum of understanding with Antarctica New Zealand to manage the conservation work, including all fundraising for the site.

Work will commence in the Antarctic summer of 2016-17 subject to the trust securing funds.

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Pleased to see Modi’s focus on building Indian economy: New Zealand PM

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Wellington: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he’s happy to see that under Narendra Modi’s leadership, there is a renewed focus on building Indian economy, and called for closer ties between the two countries.

In an email interview here, Key said closer economic and political ties between New Zealand and India would help both countries immensely.

“Prime Minister Modi has ambitious goals for improving India’s economic prosperity. I am pleased to see the renewed focus on building India’s economy,” Key told IANS in response to a question on his impressions about Modi.

Key, who has led the nation since 2008, said, “New Zealand, a small trading nation, wants to foster closer economic and political ties” with India as Indian economy is on the rise.

The prime minister, who heads the New Zealand National Party, said the two countries have a “great and growing” relationship and it “is one we are very keen to develop further”.

Key said India was New Zealand’s second-largest source of international students and “our largest source of skilled migrants”, and praised the large and growing Indian community in his country, pointing out that they make a huge contribution to New Zealand.

Hoping to visit India next year and meet Prime Minister Modi, he said he would be very pleased to host Modi in New Zealand. “Perhaps one day soon, I can tempt him down to attend an India/New Zealand cricket match,” he added.

Key has maintained for long that films and sports are two routes to make inroads for New Zealand into the hearts of Indian travellers.

To this end, Bollywood’s young and dashing actor Sidharth Malhotra has been appointed as the country’s tourism ambassador in India.

Sidharth even met Key here earlier this week, and they spoke about films, rugby, education, food and more.

Key praised Sidharth’s appointment as the first Indian ambassador for Tourism New Zealand, and said this would help foster stronger bonds between the two countries.

“I am sure he will encourage Indian travellers to visit our lovely country,” he said, adding that Sidharth, “a very nice young man”, was passionate about adventure tourism and would show India some of the “amazing activities available here”.

The actor has been experiencing that already — he has gone on the SkyWalk in Auckland and taken to skydiving, hot air ballooning and jetboating in Queenstown during his ongoing trip to the Pacific nation.

The prime minister said his country had much to offer, from its “beautiful scenery to unique cultural experience and outstanding food and wine”.

He said they would love to see more Indians coming to visit. “We will ensure they have a great time. And, of course, we have had some brilliant movies made here already so I would encourage representatives of your film industry to come and have a look for themselves,” the prime minister said.

(Radhika Bhirani, IANS)

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Antarctic study points to ‘scary’ future with global warming

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Wellington: Global sea levels will rise substantially more than previously thought and almost irreversibly if greenhouse gas emissions continue, according to New Zealand-led research released on Thursday.

An international team led by Nicholas Golledge, of Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre, used state-of-the-art computer modelling to simulate the Antarctic ice-sheet’s response to a warming climate under a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

They found that all but one of the scenarios, that of significantly reduced emissions beyond 2020, would lead to the loss of large parts of the Antarctic ice-sheet, which in turn would result in a substantial rise in the global sea-level, Xinhua reported.

“The long reaction time of the Antarctic ice-sheet, which can take thousands of years to fully manifest its response to changes in environmental conditions, coupled with the fact that CO2 (carbon dioxide) lingers in the atmosphere for a very long time means that the warming we generate now will affect the ice-sheet in ways that will be incredibly hard to undo,” Golledge said in a statement.

In its 2013 Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that the Antarctic ice-sheet would contribute only 5 centimetres to global sea-level rise by the end of this century even for its warmest emissions scenario.

But Victoria University professor Tim Naish, who was a lead author of the IPCC report, cautioned that at the time the report was written there was insufficient scientific knowledge on how the Antarctic ice-sheet might respond to future warming, meaning the IPCC sea-level projections could have been too modest.

“Our new models include processes that take place when ice-sheets come into contact with the ocean. Around 93 percent of the heat from anthropogenic global warming has gone into the ocean, and these warming ocean waters are now coming into contact with the floating margins of the Antarctic ice sheet, known as ice-shelves,” said Golledge.

“If we lose these ice-shelves, the Antarctic contribution to sea-level rise by 2,100 will be nearer 40 centimetres.”

To avoid the loss of the Antarctic ice-shelves, and an associated commitment to many metres of sea-level rise, the study showed atmospheric warming needed to be kept below 2 degrees centigrade above present levels.

“Missing the 2 degrees centigrade target will result in an Antarctic contribution to sea-level rise that could be up to 10 metres above present day,” said Golledge.

“The stakes are obviously very high, 10 percent of the world’s population lives within 10 metres of present sea level.”

To restrict global warming to 2 degrees centigrade and prevent the more dangerous consequences of climate change, the United Nations climate change meeting in Paris later this year had to agree to reduce global CO2 emissions to zero before the end of the century, Naish said in the statement.

“To be on track this will require a global commitment to 30 percent reduction, below year 1990 levels, by the year 2030.”

The last time CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were similar to present levels was about 3 million years ago, when sea levels were 20 metres higher than now, said Golledge.

 

(IANS)