Photo: AP Images
In 2008, the first plane rolled down Australia’s $46 million airstrip in Antarctica. Just four years later, that landing site is dangerously close to being unusable. Australian officials said Wednesday that the Wilkins runway is melting due to global warming, the AFP reports.
The ice runway shaved the trip to Antarctica down from 10 days by ship to a quick 4-hour flight.
The landing strip is critical to supplying Australia’s three Antarctic research stations as well as transporting scientists to the ice-covered continent.
The runway was originally supposed to handle 20 flights during the summer, but has only been able to receive six flights over the last two years because of warming temperatures and melt.
According to the AFP:
Meteorological stations have shown a temperature rise of two degrees Celsius in the past 50 years in the Antarctic peninsula, which is roughly triple that of the global temperature rise.
It must be at least 23 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 degrees Celsius) for planes to land safely.
Australia is currently searching for a new landing site.
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