IELTS Reading Actual Exam on June 18, 2022


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-27, which are based on Reading Passage 2 below.


Antarctica and Global Warming


A.   If you are an aficionado of the global warming “debate”, you have probably read at one time or another that current trends in the Antarctic show that there is no such thing as global warming. [Crack IELTS with Rob] This is, of course, not true. But the Antarctic is a vast region and it can be daunting to piece together the science stories that do get out into the mainstream press into one coherent picture.


B.   Antarctica can be divided into three major geographic regions: East Antarctica, West Antarctica, and the Antarctic Peninsula. The Transantarctic Mountains divide the continent into eastern (on the Indian Ocean side) and western (on the Pacific Ocean side) regions. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The large East Antarctic Ice Sheet flows slowly through most of its interior (10’s of meters per year at most), until the ice approaches the coast and is channeled through fast-flowing (100’s of meters per year) outlet glaciers. The ice sheet surface is high, dry, and very cold. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, as I have discussed here before, is a faster-flowing ice mass that may be vulnerable to rapid change.


C.   The Antarctic ice sheets store 90% of the ice on Earth and close to 70% of the planet’s fresh water. The West Antarctic ice sheet contains enough ice to raise sea level between 5 and 6 meters, where it all to melts. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The East Antarctic Ice Sheet holds about 10 times more. (The total ice volume is large than this but once the ice is melted, you have to fill in the hole it left behind). The relatively warm Antarctic Peninsula supports a series of ice caps and outlet glaciers that together are estimated to contain less than half a meter of sea-level equivalent. The continent is surrounded, seasonally, by sea ice that freezes at the ocean surface. Just as in the Arctic, sea ice formation in the Antarctic is important to many parts of the Earth system, including ocean circulation and climate.


D.  The Antarctica climate does not allow extensive vegetation. A combination of freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, lack of moisture, and lack of sunlight inhibit the flourishing of plants. As a result, plant life is limited to mostly mosses and liverworts. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The autotrophic community is made up of mostly protists. The flora of the continent largely consists of lichens, bryophytes, algae, and fungi. Growth generally occurs in the summer, and only for a few weeks at most.


E.  On the other hand, a variety of marine animals exist and rely, directly or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, and fur seals. The Emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica, while the Adelie Penguin breeds further south than any other penguin. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The Rockhopper penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes, giving the appearance of elaborate eyelashes. King penguins, Chinstrap penguins, and Gentoo Penguins also breed in the Antarctic. The Antarctic fur seal was very heavily hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries for its pelt by sealers from the United States and the United Kingdom. The Weddell Seal, a “true seal”, is named after Sir James Weddell, commander of British sealing expeditions in the Weddell Sea. Antarctic krill, which congregates in large schools, is the keystone species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, and is an important food organism for whales, seals, leopard seals, fur seals, and squid, icefish, penguins, albatrosses and many other birds.


F.  The passing of the Antarctic Conservation Act brought several restrictions to the continent. The introduction of alien plants or animals can bring a criminal penalty, as can the extraction of an indigenous species. The overfishing of krill, which plays a large role in the Antarctic ecosystem, led officials to enact regulations on fishing. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The Convention for the Conversation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a treaty that came into force in 1980, requires that regulations managing all Southern Ocean fisheries consider potential effects on the entire Antarctic ecosystem. Despite these new acts, unregulated and illegal fishing, particularly of Patagonian toothfish, remains a serious problem. The illegal fishing of toothfish has been increasing, with estimates of 32,000 tonnes in 2000.


G.  Most of the continent’s icy mass has so far proven largely impervious to climate change, being situated on solid rock; its deep interior is actually growing in volume as a result of increased precipitation. The Antarctic contribution to sea level rise has long been uncertain. [Crack IELTS with Rob] A recent report by buCPOM suggests that the Antarctic has provided, at most, a negligible component of observed sea level rise. “This, say the authors, places a greater burden on accounting for the reported 20th-century sea level rise of 1.5-2.0 mm per year. Indeed a survey of 72% of the Antarctic ice suggests an attributable short-term lowering of global sea levels by 0.08 mm per year. Conversely, a 10-year comparison of the balance between glacier decline and snowfall accumulation found that ice loss had increased 75%. In 2006, Antarctica lost a net 200 billion tonnes of ice.


H.  However, Antarctica’s periphery has been warming up, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and in Pine Island Bay, which together are contributing to a rise in sea level. In 2003, the Larsen-B ice shelf collapsed. Between 28 February and 8 March 2008, about 570 square kilometers of ice from the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Western Antarctica collapsed, putting the remaining 15,000 square kilometers of the ice shelf at risk. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The ice is being held back by a “thread” of ice about 6 km wide. According to NASA, the most significant Antarctic melting in the past 30 years occurred in 2005, when a mass of ice comparable in size to California briefly melted and refroze; this may have resulted from temperatures rising to as high as 5℃.


I.   Indeed, changing weather patterns in the coming years due to the gradual warming of the Earth will affect agricultural-based businesses and communities the most. Agriculture in New South Wales has reported that 187,240 proprietors and partners and 311,148 employees in agriculture are on the frontline, facing the adverse effects of rising temperatures, reduced access to water, higher salinity and frequent and intense droughts and floods. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The report, based on research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), says how climate change in the next 50 years will decrease water resources, increase temperatures, reduce area of arable land, cut livestock output and affect crop quality.


J.   Penguins, whales and seals in the Antarcia Southern Ocean could go hungry because of global warming, say scientists, who warn that the population of krill, at the heart of the food chain, has fallen about 80% since the 1970s. They say the most likely reason for the decline of the shrimp-like crustacean is to do with the sea ice around the Antarctic Peninsula, where the air temperature has risen by 2.5C (4.5F) in the past 50 years. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Krill feed on algae beneath the ice, which also provides shelter. Angus Atkinson, a biologist with the British Antarctic Survey, who led the research, said: “We don’t fully understand how the loss of sea ice here is connected to the warming, but we believe it could be behind the decline in krill.” The team, whose study is published today in Nature, looked at the scientific fishing records of nine countries working in Antarctica, involving a total of nearly 12,000 net hauls from 1926-39 and from 1976-2003. “There is only roughly a fifth of the krill around now that were around in the mid-70s”, Dr Atkinson said. The drop in krill numbers could explain declines in several species of penguin. Scientists have suspected krill stocks were dropping but earlier estimates were based on local surveys.


Questions 14 - 18

Choose the most suitable headings for paragraphs, B-F, from the list of headings below.

Write appropriate numbers (i-ix) in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet.


NB    There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use them all.


List of headings

          i         The profile Antarctic animals

          ii        Legal measures taken to protect Antarctica

          iii       Ocean farming remains forbidden

          iv       Live surroundings for marine animals

          v        The flora under extreme conditions

          vi       The importance of Antarctic

          vii      Alert for melting from Antarctic ice sheet

          ix       The flourishing of plants in Antarctica


  • 14.  Paragraph B

  • 15.  Paragraph C

  • 16.  Paragraph D

  • 17.  Paragraph E

  • 18.  Paragraph F


Questions 19 - 22

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 19-22 on your answer sheet, write


TRUE                  if the statement agrees with the information

FALSE                if the statement contradicts the information

NOT GIVEN       if there is no information on this


  • 19.  West Antarctic ice sheet stores water that is enough to raise sea levels 5 to 6 meters globally.

  • 20.  According to the author, it is impossible for any vegetation to survive on Antarctica.

  • 21.  People should bring outside plants or animals to Antarctica to enrich its ecosystem.

  • 22.  The Weddell seal and Antarctic krill are located at pivotal stages of the South Ocean ecosystem. 


Questions 23 - 27

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes, 23-27, on your answer sheet.


  • Raising temperatures on earth have caused the alternations of (23 in the coming years, 

  • and has certainly changed the way our (24)  operate and the society as a whole. 

  • CSIRO had warmed us that climate change in this way will decrease our available water, land, livestock and (25 outputs. 

  • In the meantime, animals will get (26 due to global warming.

  • The population of krill remains (27)  % of that in the 1970s.

Result: / Exit

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