Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,200,000 square kilometres, it is the fifth-largest continent. For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest and windiest continent, has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Most of Antarctica is a polar desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm along the coast and far less inland; the temperature in Antarctica has reached −89.2 °C, though the average for the third quarter is −63 °C. Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at research stations scattered across the continent. Organisms native to Antarctica include many types of algae, fungi, plants and certain animals, such as mites, penguins and tardigrades.
Vegetation, where it occurs, is tundra. Antarctica is noted as the last region on Earth in recorded history to be discovered, unseen until 1820 when the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on Vostok and Mirny sighted the Fimbul ice shelf; the continent, remained neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of accessible resources, isolation. In 1895, the first confirmed. Antarctica is a de facto condominium, governed by parties to the Antarctic Treaty System that have consulting status. Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, thirty-eight have signed it since then; the treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations; the name Antarctica is the romanised version of the Greek compound word ἀνταρκτική, feminine of ἀνταρκτικός, meaning "opposite to the Arctic", "opposite to the north".
Aristotle wrote in his book Meteorology about an Antarctic region in c. 350 BC Marinus of Tyre used the name in his unpreserved world map from the 2nd century CE. The Roman authors Hyginus and Apuleius used for the South Pole the romanised Greek name polus antarcticus, from which derived the Old French pole antartike attested in 1270, from there the Middle English pol antartik in a 1391 technical treatise by Geoffrey Chaucer. Before acquiring its present geographical connotations, the term was used for other locations that could be defined as "opposite to the north". For example, the short-lived French colony established in Brazil in the 16th century was called "France Antarctique"; the first formal use of the name "Antarctica" as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew. The long-imagined south polar continent was called Terra Australis, sometimes shortened to'Australia' as seen in a woodcut illustration titled Sphere of the winds, contained in an astrological textbook published in Frankfurt in 1545.
Although the longer Latin phrase was better known, the shortened name Australia was used in Europe's scholarly circles. In the nineteenth century, the colonial authorities in Sydney removed the Dutch name from New Holland. Instead of inventing a new name to replace it, they took the name Australia from the south polar continent, leaving it nameless for some eighty years. During that period, geographers had to make do with clumsy phrases such as "the Antarctic Continent", they searched for a more poetic replacement, suggesting various names such as Antipodea. Antarctica was adopted in the 1890s. Antarctica has no indigenous population, there is no evidence that it was seen by humans until the 19th century. However, in February 1775, during his second voyage, Captain Cook called the existence of such a polar continent "probable" and in another copy of his journal he wrote:" believe it and it's more than probable that we have seen a part of it". However, belief in the existence of a Terra Australis—a vast continent in the far south of the globe to "balance" the northern lands of Europe and North Africa—had prevailed since the times of Ptolemy in the 1st century AD.
In the late 17th century, after explorers had found that South America and Australia were not part of the fabled "Antarctica", geographers believed that the continent was much larger than its actual size. Integral to the story of the origin of Antarctica's name is that it was not named Terra Australis—this name was given to Australia instead, because of the misconception that no significant landmass could exist further south. Explorer Matthew Flinders, in particular, has been credited with popularising the transfer of the name Terra Australis to Australia, he justified the titling of his book A Voyage to Terra Australis by writing in the introduction: There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will be found in a more southern latitude.
The Windmill Islands are an Antarctic group of rocky islands and rocks about 11.1 kilometres wide, paralleling the coast of Wilkes Land for 31.5 kilometres north of Vanderford Glacier along the east side of Vincennes Bay. Kirkby Shoal is a small shoal area with depths of less than 18 metres extending about 140 metres westwards and SSW, about 3.4 kilometres from the summit of Shirley Island, Windmill Islands, 0.24 kilometres NW of Stonehocker Point, Clark Peninsula. The Windmill Islands were mapped from aerial photographs taken by USN Operation Highjump, 1946-47. So named by the US-ACAN because personnel of Operation Windmill, 1947–48, landed on Holl Island at the southwest end of the group to establish ground control for USN Operation Highjump photographs; the term "Operation Windmill" is a popular expression which developed after the expedition disbanded and refers to the extensive use of helicopters made by this group. The official title of this expedition was the'Second Antarctic Development Project', U.
S. Navy Task Force 39, 1947–48; some of the main geographic features of the archipelago are: Austral Island Kilby Island Kirkby Shoal Larsen Bank McMullin Island Molholm Island Shirley Island Composite Antarctic Gazetteer List of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands List of Antarctic islands south of 60° S Newcomb Bay SCAR Territorial claims in Antarctica This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Windmill Islands"
Territorial claims in Antarctica
There are seven sovereign states who maintain de jure symbolic territorial claims in Antarctica: Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. These countries have tended to place their Antarctic scientific observation and study facilities within their respective claimed territories. According to Argentina and Chile, the Spanish Empire had claims on Antarctica; the capitulación granted to the conquistador Pedro Sánchez de la Hoz explicitly included all lands south of the Straits of Magellan. This grant established, according to Argentina and Chile, that an animus occupandi existed on the part of Spain in Antarctica. Spain's sovereignty claim over parts of Antarctica was, according to Chile and Argentina, internationally recognized with the Inter caetera bull of 1493 and the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. Argentina and Chile treat these treaties as legal international treaties mediated by the Catholic Church, at that time a recognized arbiter in such matters; each country has claim a sector of the Antarctic continent, more or less directly south of its national antarctic-facing lands.
The United Kingdom reasserted sovereignty over the Falkland Islands in the far South Atlantic in 1833 and maintained a continuous presence there. In 1908, the British government extended its territorial claim by declaring sovereignty over "South Georgia, the South Orkneys, the South Shetlands, the Sandwich Islands, Graham's Land, situated in the South Atlantic Ocean and on the Antarctic continent to the south of the 50th parallel of south latitude, lying between the 20th and the 80th degrees of west longitude". All these territories were administered as Falkland Islands Dependencies from Stanley by the Governor of the Falkland Islands; the motivation for this declaration lay in the need to regulate and tax the whaling industry effectively. Commercial operators would hunt whales in areas outside the official boundaries of the Falkland Islands and its dependencies, there was a need to close this loophole. In 1917, the wording of the claim was modified, so as to unambiguously include all the territory in the sector stretching to the South Pole.
The new claim covered "all islands and territories whatsoever between the 20th degree of west longitude and the 50th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 50th parallel of south latitude. It was the ambition of Leopold Amery Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, that Britain incorporate the entire continent into the Empire. In a memorandum to the governors-general for Australia and New Zealand, he wrote that'with the exception of Chile and Argentina and some barren islands belonging to France... it is desirable that the whole of the Antarctic should be included in the British Empire.' The first step was taken on 30 July 1923, when the British government passed an Order in Council under the British Settlements Act 1887, defining the new borders for the Ross Dependency—"that part of His Majesty's Dominions in the Antarctic Seas, which comprises all the islands and territories between the 160th degree of East Longitude and the 150th degree of West Longitude which are situated south of the 60th degree of South Latitude shall be named the Ross Dependency."
The Order in Council went on to appoint the Governor-General and Commander-in Chief of New Zealand as the Governor of the territory. In 1930, the United Kingdom claimed Enderby Land. In 1933, a British imperial order transferred territory south of 60° S and between meridians 160° E and 45° E to Australia as the Australian Antarctic Territory. Following the passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the government of the United Kingdom relinquished all control over the government of New Zealand and Australia; this however had no bearing on the obligations of the governors-general of both countries in their capacity as Governors of the Antarctic territories. The basis for the claim to Adélie Land by France depended on the discovery of the coastline in 1840 by the French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville, who named it after his wife, Adèle.. He erected the French flag and took possession of the land for France, on January 21st, 1840 at 5:30 PM; the British decided to recognize this claim, the border between Adélie Land and the Australian Antarctic Territory was fixed definitively in 1938.
These developments concerned Norwegian whaling interests, which wished to avoid British taxation of whaling stations in the Antarctic and felt concerns that they would be commercially excluded from the continent. The whale-ship owner Lars Christensen financed several expeditions to the Antarctic with the view to claiming land for Norway and to establishing stations on Norwegian territory to gain better privileges; the first expedition, led by Nils Larsen and Ola Olstad, landed on Peter I Island in 1929 and claimed the island for Norway. On 6 March 1931 a Norwegian royal proclamation declared the island under Norwegian sovereignty and on 23 March 1933 the island was declared a dependency; the 1929 expedition led by Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen and Finn Lützow-Holm named t
Operation Highjump titled The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program, 1946–1947, was a United States Navy operation organized by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. USN, Officer in Charge, Task Force 68, led by Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen, USN, Commanding Officer, Task Force 68. Operation Highjump commenced 26 August 1946 and ended in late February 1947. Task Force 68 included 4,700 men, 13 ships, 33 aircraft. Operation Highjump's primary mission was to establish the Antarctic research base Little America IV. Highjump's objectives, according to the U. S. Navy report of the operation, were: Training personnel and testing equipment in frigid conditions; the Western Group of ships reached the Marquesas Islands on December 12, 1946, whereupon the Henderson and Cacapon set up weather monitoring stations. By December 24, the Currituck had begun launching aircraft on reconnaissance missions; the Eastern Group of ships reached Peter I Island in late December 1946. On January 1, 1947, Lieutenant Commander Thompson and Chief Petty Officer Dixon utilized "Jack Browne" masks and DESCO Oxygen rebreathers to log the first dive by Americans under the Antarctic.
Paul Allman Siple, Ph. D. was the senior U. S. War Department representative on the expedition. Dr. Siple was the same Eagle Scout who accompanied Admiral Byrd on the previous Byrd Antarctic expeditions; the Central Group of ships reached the Bay of Whales on January 15, 1947, where they began construction of Little America IV. Naval ships and personnel were withdrawn back to the United States in late February 1947, the expedition was terminated due to the early approach of winter and worsening weather conditions. Admiral Byrd discussed the lessons learned from the operation in an interview with Lee van Atta of International News Service held aboard the expedition's command ship the USS Mount Olympus; the interview appeared in the Wednesday, March 5, 1947 edition of the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio and read in part as follows: Admiral Richard E. Byrd warned today that the United States should adopt measures of protection against the possibility of an invasion of the country by hostile planes coming from the polar regions.
The admiral explained that he was not trying to scare anyone, but the cruel reality is that in case of a new war, the United States could be attacked by planes flying over one or both poles. This statement was made as part of a recapitulation of his own polar experience, in an exclusive interview with International News Service. Talking about the completed expedition, Byrd said that the most important result of his observations and discoveries is the potential effect that they have in relation to the security of the United States; the fantastic speed with which the world is shrinking – recalled the admiral – is one of the most important lessons learned during his recent Antarctic exploration. I have to warn my compatriots that the time has ended when we were able to take refuge in our isolation and rely on the certainty that the distances, the oceans, the poles were a guarantee of safety. After the operation ended, a follow-up Operation Windmill returned to the area in order to provide ground-truthing to the aerial photography of Highjump from 1947-1948.
Finn Ronne financed a private operation to the same territory until 1948. As with other U. S. Antarctic expeditions, interested persons were allowed to send letters with enclosed envelopes to the base, where commemorative cachets were added to their enclosures, which were returned to the senders; these souvenir philatelic covers are available at low cost. It is estimated that at least 150,000 such envelopes were produced, though their final number may be higher. On December 30, 1946, aviation radiomen Wendell K. Hendersin, Fredrick W. Williams, Ensign Maxwell A. Lopez were killed when their Martin PBM Mariner George 1 crashed during a blizzard; the surviving six crew members were rescued 13 days including aviation radioman James H. Robbins and co-pilot William Kearns. A plaque honoring the three killed crewmen was erected at the McMurdo Station research base, Mount Lopez on Thurston Island was named in honor of killed airman Maxwell A. Lopez. In December 2004, an attempt was made to locate the remains of the plane.
There are ongoing efforts to repatriate the bodies of the three men killed in the crash. On January 21, 1947, Vance N. Woodall died during a "ship unloading accident". In a crew profile, deckman Edward Beardsley described his worst memory as "when Seaman Vance Woodall died on the Ross Ice Shelf under a piece of roller equipment designed to'pave' the ice to build an airstrip." Task Force 68Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen, USN, Commanding Eastern Group Capt. George J. Dufek, USN, Commanding Seaplane Tender USS Pine Island. Capt. Henry H. Caldwell, USN, Commanding Destroyer USS Brownson. Cdr. H. M. S. Gimber, USN, Commanding Tanker USS Canisteo. Capt. Edward K. Walker, USN, CommandingWestern Group Capt. Charles A. Bond, USN, Co
Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research is an interdisciplinary body of the International Council for Science. It was established in February 1958 to continue the international coordination of Antarctic scientific activities that had begun during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58. SCAR is charged with the initiating and coordinating of scientific research in the Antarctic region; the scientific business of SCAR is conducted by its Standing Scientific Groups. SCAR provides scientific advice to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings and other organizations on issues of science and conservation affecting the management of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. In that role, SCAR has made numerous recommendations on a variety of matters few of which have been incorporated into Antarctic Treaty instruments. SCAR meets every two years to conduct its administrative business at the SCAR Delegates Meeting. An executive committee elected from the delegates is responsible for the day-to-day administration of SCAR through its secretariat at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, England.
The executive committee comprises four vice-presidents. The SCAR Secretariat is staffed by the executive director, executive officer and an administrative assistant. SCAR holds, prior to the delegates meeting, a major open science conference to draw attention to Antarctic issues, along with meetings of the standing scientific groups that are designed to finalize the science programmes for eventual approval by the delegates. In 2002 SCAR received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. Since 2006, SCAR has awarded three medals biennially in recognition of excellence in Antarctic and Southern Ocean research and outstanding service to the international Antarctic community. There is one medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research, one for International Scientific Coordination, the SCAR President's medal for Outstanding Achievement. Presentations are made at the SCAR Open Science Conference and are intended to reward those who exemplify the best of the Antarctic community and serve as role models for the next generation.
Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica Anna Wåhlin, committee co-chair Official website
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, the natural hazards that threaten it; the organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology, geography and hydrology. The USGS is a fact-finding research organization with no regulatory responsibility; the USGS is a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior. The USGS employs 8,670 people and is headquartered in Reston, Virginia; the USGS has major offices near Lakewood, Colorado, at the Denver Federal Center, Menlo Park, California. The current motto of the USGS, in use since August 1997, is "science for a changing world." The agency's previous slogan, adopted on the occasion of its hundredth anniversary, was "Earth Science in the Public Service." Since 2012, the USGS science focus is directed at six topical "Mission Areas", namely Climate and Land Use Change, Core Science Systems, Ecosystems and Minerals and Environmental Health, Natural Hazards, Water.
In December 2012, the USGS split the Energy and Minerals and Environmental Health Mission Area resulting in seven topical Mission Areas, with the two new areas being: Energy and Minerals and Environmental Health. Administratively, it is divided into six Regional Units. Other specific programs include: Earthquake Hazards Program monitors earthquake activity worldwide; the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado on the campus of the Colorado School of Mines detects the location and magnitude of global earthquakes. The USGS runs or supports several regional monitoring networks in the United States under the umbrella of the Advanced National Seismic System; the USGS informs authorities, emergency responders, the media, the public, both domestic and worldwide, about significant earthquakes. It maintains long-term archives of earthquake data for scientific and engineering research, it conducts and supports research on long-term seismic hazards. USGS has released the UCERF California earthquake forecast.
As of 2005, the agency is working to create a National Volcano Early Warning System by improving the instrumentation monitoring the 169 volcanoes in U. S. territory and by establishing methods for measuring the relative threats posed at each site. The USGS National Geomagnetism Program monitors the magnetic field at magnetic observatories and distributes magnetometer data in real time; the USGS collaborates with Canadian and Mexican government scientists, along with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, to produce the North American Environmental Atlas, used to depict and track environmental issues for a continental perspective. The USGS operates the streamgaging network for the United States, with over 7400 streamgages. Real-time streamflow data are available online. National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center implements partner-driven science to improve understanding of past and present land use change, develops relevant climate and land use forecasts, identifies lands and communities that are most vulnerable to adverse impacts of change from the local to global scale.
Since 1962, the Astrogeology Research Program has been involved in global and planetary exploration and mapping. In collaboration with Stanford University, the USGS operates the USGS-Stanford Ion Microprobe Laboratory, a world-class analytical facility for U--Pb geochronology and trace element analyses of minerals and other earth materials. USGS operates a number of water related programs, notably the National Streamflow Information Program and National Water-Quality Assessment Program. USGS Water data is publicly available from their National Water Information System database; the USGS operates the National Wildlife Health Center, whose mission is "to serve the nation and its natural resources by providing sound science and technical support, to disseminate information to promote science-based decisions affecting wildlife and ecosystem health. The NWHC provides information, technical assistance, research and leadership on national and international wildlife health issues." It is the agency responsible for surveillance of H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in the United States.
The USGS runs 17 biological research centers in the United States, including the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. The USGS is investigating collaboration with the social networking site Twitter to allow for more rapid construction of ShakeMaps; the USGS produces several national series of topographic maps which vary in scale and extent, with some wide gaps in coverage, notably the complete absence of 1:50,000 scale topographic maps or their equivalent. The largest and best-known topographic series is the 7.5-minute, 1:24,000 scale, quadrangle, a non-metric scale unique to the United States. Each of these maps covers an area bounded by two lines of latitude and two lines of longitude spaced 7.5 minutes apart. Nearly 57,000 individual maps in this series cover the 48 contiguous states, Hawaii, U. S. territories, areas of Alaska near Anchorage and Prudhoe Bay. The area covered by each map varies with the latitude of its represented location due to convergence of the meridians. At lower latitudes, near 30° north, a 7.5-minute quadrangle contains an area of about 64 square miles.
At 49° north latitude, 49 square miles are contained within a quadrangle of that size. As a unique non-metric map scale, the 1:24,000 scale requires a separate and specialized romer scale for pl
Wilkes Station was an Antarctic research station established 29 January 1957 by the United States as one of seven U. S. stations established for the International Geophysical Year program in Antarctica. It was taken over by Australia on 7 February 1959. Navy personnel from the United States constructed the main part of Wilkes in a period of 16 days in January and February 1957, unloading 11,000 tons of material and supplies, it took a crew of over 100 to erect the station which housed 24 naval personnel and scientists for the next 18 months. As this was the time of the Cold War, there was considerable concern by the United States and Australia about Russian activity in Antarctica. Wilkes was seen to be strategically located because of its proximity to the south magnetic pole. Australia assumed custody of Wilkes, which remained the property of the U. S. State Department, in February 1959. Although Australia took over the operational command, the remaining US personnel did not take kindly to being under Australian control.
There was a'back down' until 1961 when the station came under exclusive ANARE control. Wilkes had been built in 1957 for a two-year period. By 1964 the buildings had become a fire hazard due to fuel seepage, the station was becoming buried by snow and ice; the new station of Casey Repstat was developed on the other, side of Newcomb Bay, about two kilometers across the bay south of Wilkes. It was commissioned in 1969 and Wilkes was closed down. Wilkes Station is now permanently frozen in ice and is only revealed during a big thaw every four or five years. Many objects remain embedded in the ice, visitors are able to see the remains of the station through the ice. What remains at Wilkes are a number of barracks buildings known as Clements huts, the remnants of the semi-cylindrical canvas store buildings known as Jamesway huts. Wilkes features a series of storage dumps and a considerable amount of rubbish resulting from 12 years of occupation, including 7000 fuel and oil drums. In early 1988, the Australian Army's 17th Construction Squadron deployed Lieutenant Andrew Stanner to Wilkes Station, Antarctica in order to develop an environmental clean-up plan to remove, make safe or dispose of a large accumulation of rubbish, fuel in drums, explosives and gas cylinders deposited since the late 1950s.
The plan was subsequently carried out over a period of years for the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions by a series of detachments from the squadron. Ice Station, written by Matthew Reilly, is a fiction thriller loosely based on Wilkes Station; the Coldest Place on Earth, written by Robert Thompson who led the September 1962 Wilkes-Vostock Traverse, returning to Wilkes in January 1963. List of Antarctic research stations List of Antarctic field camps Australian Antarctic Division Casey Station Australian Antarctic Division Wilkes History