The Argentine, British and Chilean claims all overlap, and have caused friction. Australia claims the largest area.

Countries interested in participating in a possible territorial division of Antarctica

This group of countries participating as members of Antarctica Treaty have a territorial interest in the Antarctic continent but the provisions of the Treaty do not allow them to make their claims while it is in force. [ La Antartica ] ]]

*BRA has a designated 'zone of interest' that falls short of actual claim;
*ECU has formally reserved its right to make a claim.fact|date=September 2008
*PER has formally reserved its right to make a claim.fact|date=September 2008
*RUS has reserved its right to claim "territories discovered by Russians", which potentially may refer to the entire continent.
*USA has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
*URY has formally reserved its right to make a claim.fact|date=September 2008

Germany also maintained a claim to Antarctica, known as New Swabia, between 1939 and 1945. It was situated from coor d Antarctic|20|E to coor d Antarctic|10|W, overlapping Norway's claim. The claim was abandoned after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945.


Although coal, hydrocarbons, iron ore, platinum, copper, chromium, nickel, gold and other minerals have been found, they have not been in large enough quantities to exploit. The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty also restricts a struggle for resources. In 1998, a compromise agreement was reached to place an indefinite ban on mining, to be reviewed in 2048, further limiting economic development and exploitation. The primary agricultural activity is the capture and offshore trading of fish. Antarctic fisheries in 2000–01 reported landing 112,934 tonnes. [cite web|url=|title=Importance of Antarctica|publisher=Santa Barbara City College Biological Sciences|accessdate=2006-02-05]

Small-scale "expedition tourism" has existed since 1957 and is currently subject to Antarctic Treaty and Environmental Protocol provisions, but in effect self-regulated by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). Not all vessels associated with Antarctic tourism are members of IAATO, but IAATO members account for 95% of the tourist activity. Travel is largely by small or medium ship, focusing on specific scenic locations with accessible concentrations of iconic wildlife. A total of 37,506 tourists visited during the 2006–07 Austral summer with nearly all of them coming from commercial ships. The number is predicted to increase to over 80,000 by 2010. [cite web|url=|title=Final Report, 30th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting|publisher=Antarctic Treaty Secretariat|accessdate=2007-08-02|format=DOC] [cite web|url=|title=Politics of Antarctica|accessdate=2006-02-05] There has been some recent concern over the potential adverse environmental and ecosystem effects caused by the influx of visitors. A call for stricter regulations for ships and a tourism quota have been made by some environmentalists and scientists. [cite web|url=|title="Tourism threatens Antarctic"|publisher="Telegraph UK"|accessdate=2006-02-05] The primary response by Antarctic Treaty Parties has been to develop, through their Committee for Environmental Protection and in partnership with IAATO, "site use guidelines" setting landing limits and closed or restricted zones on the more frequently visited sites. Antarctic sight seeing flights (which did not land) operated out of Australia and New Zealand until the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 in 1979 on Mount Erebus, which killed all 257 aboard. Qantas resumed commercial overflights to Antarctica from Australia in the mid-1990s.


Transport on the continent has transformed from explorers crossing the isolated remote area of Antarctica on foot to a more open area due to human technologies enabling more convenient and faster transport by land and predominantly by air and water. Recently, using dogs to pull researchers and sledges have been banned on objections that dogs are an alien species to Antarctica. New electric buggies are now being used, but these have a down side. The dogs were excellent for sensing crevices and thin ice, but these new buggies cannot.


Each year, scientists from 27 different nations conduct experiments not reproducible in any other place in the world. In the summer more than 4,000 scientists operate research stations; this number decreases to nearly 1,000 in the winter. McMurdo Station is capable of housing more than 1,000 scientists, visitors, and tourists.

Researchers include biologists, geologists, oceanographers, physicists, astronomers, glaciologists, and meteorologists. Geologists tend to study plate tectonics, meteorites from outer space, and resources from the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. Glaciologists in Antarctica are concerned with the study of the history and dynamics of floating ice, seasonal snow, glaciers, and ice sheets. Biologists, in addition to examining the wildlife, are interested in how harsh temperatures and the presence of people affect adaptation and survival strategies in a wide variety of organisms. Medical physicians have made discoveries concerning the spreading of viruses and the body's response to extreme seasonal temperatures. Astrophysicists at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station study the celestial dome and cosmic microwave background radiation. Many astronomical observations are better made from the interior of Antarctica than from most surface locations because of the high elevation, which results in a thin atmosphere, low temperature, which minimizes the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, and absence of light pollution, thus allowing for a view of space clearer than anywhere else on Earth. Antarctic ice serves as both the shield and the detection medium for the largest neutrino telescope in the world, built 2 kilometers below Amundsen-Scott station. [cite web|url=|title=Science in Antarctica|publisher="Antarctic Connection"|accessdate=2006-02-04]

Since the 1970s, an important focus of study has been the ozone layer in the atmosphere above Antarctica. In 1985, three British Scientists working on data they had gathered at Halley Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf discovered the existence of a hole in this layer. In 1998, NASA satellite data showed that the Antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, covering 27 million km² (10 million sq mi). It was eventually determined that the destruction of the ozone was caused by chlorofluorocarbons emitted by human products. With the ban of CFCs in the Montreal Protocol of 1989, it is believed that the ozone hole will close up over the next fifty years.

Princess Elisabeth Polar Science Station

On 6 September 2007, Belgian-based International Polar Foundation unveiled the Princess Elisabeth station, the world's first zero-emissions polar science station in Antarctica to research climate change. Costing $16.3 million, the prefabricated station, which is part of International Polar Year will be shipped to the South Pole from Belgium by the end of 2008 to monitor the health of the polar regions. Belgian polar explorer Alain Hubert has stated: "This base will be the first of its kind to produce zero emissions, making it a unique model of how energy should be used in the Antarctic." Johan Berte is the leader of the station design team and manager of the project which will conduct research in climatology, glaciology and microbiology. [ [] - Princess Elisabeth Station]


Meteorites from Antarctica are an important area of study of material formed early in the solar system; most are thought to come from asteroids, but some may have originated on larger planets. The first meteorites were found in 1912. In 1969, a Japanese expedition discovered nine meteorites. Most of these meteorites have fallen onto the ice sheet in the last million years. Motion of the ice sheet tends to concentrate the meteorites at blocking locations such as mountain ranges, with wind erosion bringing them to the surface after centuries beneath accumulated snowfall. Compared with meteorites collected in more temperate regions on Earth, the Antarctic meteorites are well-preserved.cite web|url=|title=Meteorites from Antarctica |publisher=NASA| accessdate=2006-02-09]

This large collection of meteorites allows a better understanding of the abundance of meteorite types in the solar system and how meteorites relate to asteroids and comets. New types of meteorites and rare meteorites have been found. Among these are pieces blasted off the Moon, and probably Mars, by impacts. These specimens, particularly ALH84001 discovered by ANSMET, are at the center of the controversy about possible evidence of microbial life on Mars. Because meteorites in space absorb and record cosmic radiation, the time elapsed since the meteorite hit the Earth can be determined from laboratory studies. The elapsed time since fall, or terrestrial residence age, of a meteorite represents more information that might be useful in environmental studies of Antarctic ice sheets.

In 2006, a team of researchers from Ohio State University used gravity measurements by NASA's GRACE satellites to discover the convert|300|mi|km|-1|sing=on-wide Wilkes Land crater, which probably formed about 250 million years ago.cite web| url=| title=Big Bang in Antarctica—Killer Crater Found Under Ice| publisher=Research News| first=Pam Frost| last=Gorder| date=1 June 2006]

Volcanic eruption

In January 2008, the British Antarctic Survey (Bas) scientists, led by Hugh Corr and David Vaughan, reported (in the journal Nature Geoscience) that 2,200 years ago, a volcano erupted under Antarctica ice sheet (based on airborne survey with radar images). The biggest eruption in the last 10,000 years, the volcanic ash was found deposited on the ice surface under the Hudson Mountains, close to Pine Island Glacier. [ [ BBC NEWS, Ancient Antarctic eruption noted] ]

Effects of global warming

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.The icy road to Bali; The UN and climate change, The Economist, 3 November 2007, p. 78 ] The Antarctic contribution to sea-level rise has long been uncertain. A recent report by CPOM suggests that Antarctica has provided, at most, a negligible component of observed sea-level rise - 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. [D. J. Wingham et al; [ Mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet] Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2006) 364, ]

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 levels. In 2003 the Larsen-B ice shelf collapsed. This was initially thought to be purely the result of global warming, but now is believed to be the result of complex natural processes in addition to global warming. cite web | author = Neil Glasser of Aberystwyth University | title = Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse Blamed On More Than Climate Change | url =] 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. The ice is being held back by a "thread" of ice about 6 km wide.cite web | author = CNN| title = Huge Antarctic ice chunk collapses | publisher = CNN | date = 2008-03-25 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-25] cite web | author = CNN| title = Massive ice shelf on verge of breakup | publisher = CNN | date = 2008-03-25 | url = | accessdate = 2008-03-26] 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 nowrap|5 °C nowrap|(41 °F).cite web | author = Reuters | title = Big area of Antarctica melted in 2005 | publisher = CNN | date = 2007-05-16 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-11]

In contrast to the break up of some ice shelves (ice that formed on land and has now moved so it is floating on the sea) along the peninsula, the amount of sea ice (ice formed by freezing ocean water) around Antarctica has remained stable, or even increased some, over the past 30 years.cite web | title = Regional changes in Arctic and Antarctic sea ice | publisher = United Nations Environment Programme | url =] The average extent of Antarctic sea ice in one month can differ by as much as 1 million square kilometers from the long-term average for that month. The area covered by Antarctic sea ice has shown a small increasing trend (0.8% per decade).cite web | title = All About Sea Ice | publisher = National Snow and Ice Data Center | url =] The sea ice concentration of Antarctica in June 2008 is virtually the same as that in June 1979.

Antarctic Ozone depletion

There is a large ozone hole over Antarctica which was detected by scientists in 1973 and continues to grow to this day. The ozone hole is attributed to the emission of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs into the atmosphere, which decompose the ozone into other gasses.

ee also

Geographic regions
*Antarctic Peninsula
*Antarctica ecozone
*Eastern Antarctica
*Extreme points of the Antarctic
*List of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands
*McMurdo Sound
*Ross Sea
*Weddell SeaGeography
*Ancient world maps
*List of Bulgarian toponyms in Antarctica
*List of deserts by area
*List of places with fewer than ten residents (Note: refers to permanent residents)
*List of research stations in Antarctica
*World mapGeopolitics
*Antarctica Treaty
*Antarctic Treaty Secretariat
*Argentine Antarctic Geopolitics
*Brazil Antarctic Geopolitics
*Chile Antarctic Geopolitics
*Flags of Antarctica

*Antarctica Marathon
*Antarctic Stamps
*Communications in Antarctica
* The "Icebird", an Australian supply vessel.
* "Life in the Freezer", a BBC natural history television series on life on and around Antarctica
* "March of the Penguins", an Academy Award winning documentary film depicting the annual journey Emperor Penguins make to their ancestral breeding grounds.
*Soviet Antarctic Expedition
*Trinity Church, Antarctica


External links

* [ Antarctic Treaty Secretariat] , "de facto" government
*dmoz|Regional/Polar_Regions/Antarctic/|Antarctic region
* [ Portals on the World - Antarctica] from the Library of Congress
*CIA World Factbook link|ay|Antarctica
* [ NASA's LIMA] (Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica) ( [ USGS mirror] )
* [ Antarctica travel guide] from [ WikiTravel]
* [ World Environment Day 2007 "Melting Ice" image gallery at The Guardian]
* [ Greenpeace in Antarctica]
* [ BAS Online Palaeontology Collection]
* [ Australian Antarctic Division]
* [ U.S. Antarctic Program Portal]
* [ Antarctica Development Concern]
* [ The Antarctic Sun] (Online newspaper of the U.S. Antarctic Program)

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