Demographics of Antarctica
Antarctica has few permanent residents, contains research stations and field camps that are staffed seasonally or year-round, former whaling settlements. The largest station, McMurdo Station, has a summer population of about 1,000 people and a winter population of about 200. 29 nations, all signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, send personnel to perform seasonal or year-round research on the continent and in its surrounding oceans. The population of people doing and supporting scientific research on the continent and its nearby islands south of 60 degrees south latitude varies from 4,000 in summer to 1,000 in winter. At least 11 children have been born in West Antarctica; the first was Emilio Marcos Palma, born on 7 January 1978 to Argentine parents at Esperanza, Hope Bay, near the tip of the Antarctic peninsula. In 1984, Juan Pablo Camacho was born at the Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva Base, becoming the first Chilean born in Antarctica. Soon after, a girl, was born at the same station. In 2001, National Geographic reported.
Antarctica at the CIA World Factbook
History of Antarctica
For the natural history of the Antarctic continent, see Antarctica. The history of Antarctica emerges from early Western theories of a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, believed to exist in the far south of the globe; the term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle, was coined by Marinus of Tyre in the 2nd century AD. The rounding of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn in the 15th and 16th centuries proved that Terra Australis Incognita, if it existed, was a continent in its own right. In 1773 James Cook and his crew crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time but although they discovered nearby islands, they did not catch sight of Antarctica itself, it is believed. In 1819, a few of the 644 crew of the wrecked Spanish ship of the line San Telmo with 74 cannons might have been the first men to set foot on Antarctica before dying of hypothermia - but there is no proof that they did. A year on the 27th of January, 1820 a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev discovered an ice shelf at Princess Martha Coast that became known as the Fimbul Ice Shelf.
Bellingshausen and Lazarev became the first explorers to see and discover the land of Antarctica continent. Three days on 30 January 1820, a British expedition captained by Edward Bransfield sighted Trinity Peninsula, ten months an American sealer Nathaniel Palmer sighted Antarctica on 17 November 1820; the first landing was just over a year when American Captain John Davis, a sealer, set foot on the ice. Several expeditions attempted to reach the South Pole in the early 20th century, during the'Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration'. Many resulted in death. Norwegian Roald Amundsen reached the Pole on 13 December 1911, following a dramatic race with the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott. Aristotle speculated, "Now since there must be a region bearing the same relation to the southern pole as the place we live in bears to our pole...". It was not until Prince Henry the Navigator began in 1418 to encourage the penetration of the torrid zone in the effort to reach India by circumnavigating Africa that European exploration of the southern hemisphere began.
In 1473 Portuguese navigator Lopes Gonçalves proved that the equator could be crossed, cartographers and sailors began to assume the existence of another, temperate continent to the south of the known world. The doubling of the Cape of Good Hope in 1487 by Bartolomeu Dias first brought explorers within touch of the Antarctic cold, proved that there was an ocean separating Africa from any Antarctic land that might exist. Ferdinand Magellan, who passed through the Straits of Magellan in 1520, assumed that the islands of Tierra del Fuego to the south were an extension of this unknown southern land, it appeared as such on a map by Ortelius: Terra australis recenter inventa sed nondum plene cognita. European geographers connected the coast of Tierra del Fuego with the coast of New Guinea on their globes, allowing their imaginations to run riot in the vast unknown spaces of the south Atlantic, south Indian and Pacific oceans they sketched the outlines of the Terra Australis Incognita, a vast continent stretching in parts into the tropics.
The search for this great south land or Third World was a leading motive of explorers in the 16th and the early part of the 17th centuries. In 1599, according to the account of Jacob le Maire, the Dutch Dirck Gerritsz Pomp observed mountainous land at latitude. If so, these were the South Shetland Islands, the first European sighting of Antarctica. Other accounts, however, do not note casting doubt on their accuracy, it has been argued that the Spaniard Gabriel de Castilla claimed to have sighted "snow-covered mountains" beyond the 64° S in 1603, but this claim is not recognized. Quirós in 1606 took possession for the king of Spain all of the lands he had discovered in Australia del Espiritu Santo and those he would discover "even to the Pole". Francis Drake like Spanish explorers before him had speculated that there might be an open channel south of Tierra del Fuego. Indeed, when Schouten and Le Maire discovered the southern extremity of Tierra del Fuego and named it Cape Horn in 1615, they proved that the Tierra del Fuego archipelago was of small extent and not connected to the southern land.
In 1642 Tasman showed that New Holland was separated by sea from any continuous southern continent. Voyagers round the Horn met with contrary winds and were driven southward into snowy skies and ice-encumbered seas; the visit to South Georgia by the English merchant Anthony de la Roché in 1675 was the first discovery of land south of the Antarctic Convergence. Soon after the voyage cartographers started honouring the discoverer. James Cook was aware of la Roché's discovery when surveying and mapping the island in 1775. Edmond Halley's voyage in HMS Paramour for magnetic investigations in the South Atlantic met the pack ice in 52° S in January 1700, but that latitude was his farthest south. A determined effort on the part of the French naval officer Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier to discover the "South Land" – described by a half legendary "sieur de Gonneyville" – resulted in the discovery of Bouvet Island in 54°10′ S, in the navigation of 48° of longitude of ice-cumbered sea nearly in 55° S in 173
West Antarctica, or Lesser Antarctica, one of the two major regions of Antarctica, is the part of that continent that lies within the Western Hemisphere, includes the Antarctic Peninsula. It is separated from East Antarctica by the Transantarctic Mountains and is covered by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, it lies between the Ross Sea, the Weddell Sea. It may be considered a giant peninsula stretching from the South Pole towards the tip of South America. West Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet, but there have been signs that climate change is having some effect and that this ice sheet may have started to shrink slightly; the coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula are the only parts of West Antarctica. These have the warmest climate in Antarctica; the rocks are clad in mosses and lichens that can cope with the intense cold of winter and the short growing-season. Lying on the Pacific Ocean side of the Transantarctic Mountains, West Antarctica comprises the Antarctic Peninsula and Ellsworth Land, Marie Byrd Land and King Edward VII Land, offshore islands such as Adelaide Island, ice shelves, notably the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf on the Weddell Sea, the Ross Ice Shelf on the Ross Sea.
West Antarctica was named in the early 20th century. Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names approved the name in 1962. West Antarctica is covered by a massive ice sheet referred to as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. In recent decades this ice sheet has shown signs of decreasing mass; the parts of West Antarctica not covered with ice, which are the coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula, constitute a biodiversity region known as Marielandia Antarctic tundra. This area has the warmest climate in Antarctica and the moss and lichen-covered rocks are free of snow during the summer months, although the weather is still intensely cold and the growing season short. Tectonic evolution of the Transantarctic Mountains West Antarctic Rift This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "West Antarctica"
Transport in Antarctica
Transport in Antarctica has transformed from explorers crossing the isolated remote area of Antarctica by foot to a more open era due to human technologies enabling more convenient and faster transport, predominantly by air and water, as well as land. Transportation technologies on a remote area like Antarctica need to be able to deal with low temperatures and continuous winds to ensure the travelers' safety. Due to the fragility of the Antarctic environment, only a limited amount of transport movements can take place and sustainable transportation technologies have to be used to reduce the ecological footprint; the infrastructure of land and air transport needs to be safe and sustainable. Thousands of tourists and hundreds of scientists a year depend on the Antarctic transportation system. Winds continuously blow snow on roads in Antarctica; the South Pole Traverse is 1,450 km long and links the United States' McMurdo Station on the coast to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. It is not paved.
There are flags to mark the route. The United States Antarctic Program maintains two ice roads during the austral summer. One provides access to Pegasus Field on the Ross Ice Shelf; the ice road between Pegasus Field and McMurdo Station is about 14 miles. The other road provides access to the Ice Runway, on sea ice; the road between the Ice Runway and McMurdo Station varies in length from year to year depending on many factors, including ice stability. These roads are critical for resupplying McMurdo Station, Scott Base, Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station; the scarcity and poor quality of road infrastructure limits land transportation by conventional vehicles. A normal car on tires has limited capability for Antarctic conditions. Scientific bases are built on snow free areas close to the ocean. Around these stations and on a hard packed snow or ice, tire based vehicles can drive but on deeper and softer snow, a normal tire based vehicle cannot travel. Due to these limitation vehicles on belts have been the preferred option in Antarctica.
In 1997 two specialized cars with large tires running tire pressure as low as 1.5psi/0.1bar travelled onto the high Antarctica Plateau, giving strong indication that tire based vehicles could be an option for efficient travelling in Antarctica. Mawson Station started using classic Volkswagen Beetles, the first production cars to be used in Antarctica; the first of these was named "Antarctica 1". In December 1997 into February 1998 two AT44, 4x4 cars joined an expedition by the Swedish Polar Institution; the cars got used to transport people and supplies from the Ice shelf to WASA station, to perform scanning of the snow and support a drilling expedition to on the Antarctica Plateau 76°S 8°03'W. This is the first time tire based vehicles travel on the Antarctica high plateau. In 2006 a team of six people took part in the Ice Challenger Expedition. Travelling in a specially designed six wheel drive vehicle, the team completed the journey from the Antarctic coast at Patriot Hills to the geographic South Pole in 69 hours.
In doing so they beat the previous record of 24 days. They arrived at the South Pole on December 12, 2005; the team members on that expedition were Andrew Regan, Jason De Carteret, Andrew Moon, Richard Griffiths, Gunnar Egilsson and Andrew Miles. The expedition showed that wheeled transport on the continent is not only possible but often more practical; the expedition hoped to raise awareness about global warming and climate change. From start of December 2008 into February 2009, four AT44, 4x4 cars were used to support a ski race by Amundsen Omega 3, from S82° 41' E17° 43' to South Pole. A film was made of this race by BBC called "On Thin Ice" with James Cracknell; the cars started from Novo airbase at S70° 49' E11° 38', establish a route onto the plateau through the crevasse areas in the Shcherbakov Mountain Range driving nearly 1500 km to the start line of the ski race. For the return journey each car covered between 5800 km with one fuel depot on the way. From 2008 to date tire based cars, AT44 4x4 and AT44 6x6 have been used every season to support various NGO and scientific expedition/projects, supporting flights, fuel drops, skiers, biker, a tractor, collecting snow samples and more.
The combined distance covered on the Antarctica Plateau is over 220 thousand km and though towing capacity is much lower than for most belt based vehicles, the tire based cars multiply the travel speed and use only a fraction of the fuel making this an option for some expeditions/projects. A second expedition led by Andrew Regan and Andrew Moon departed in November 2010; the Moon-Regan Trans Antarctic Expedition this time traversed the entire continent twice, using two six-wheel-drive vehicles and a Concept Ice Vehicle designed by Lotus. This time the team used the expedition to raise awareness about the global environmental importance of the Antarctic region and to show that biofuel can be a viable and environmentally friendly option. Antarctica's only harbour is at McMurdo Station. Most coastal stations have offshore anchorages, supplies are transferred from ship to shore by small boats and helicopters. A few stations have a basic wharf facility. All ships at port are subject to inspection in accordance with Antarctic Treaty.
Offshore anchorage is sparse and intermittent, but poses no problem to sailboats designed for the ice with lifting keels and long shorelines. McMurdo Station, Palmer Station.
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
Antarctic Treaty System
The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System, regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude; the treaty entered into force in 1961 and has 53 parties. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, bans military activity on the continent; the treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat headquarters has been located in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959, entered into force on June 23, 1961. The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year of 1957–58; the twelve countries that had significant interests in Antarctica at the time were: Argentina, Belgium, France, New Zealand, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States.
These countries had established over 55 Antarctic stations for the IGY. The treaty was a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific co-operation, achieved "on the ice". Article I1. Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited, inter alia, any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, as well as the testing of any type of weapons. 2. The present treaty shall not prevent the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes. Article IIFreedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end, as applied during the International Geophysical Year, shall continue, subject to the provisions of the present treaty. Article III1. In order to promote international cooperation in scientific investigation in Antarctica, as provided for in Article II of the present treaty, the Contracting Parties agree that, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable: information regarding plans for scientific programs in Antarctica shall be exchanged to permit maximum economy and efficiency of operations.
2. In implementing this Article, every encouragement shall be given to the establishment of cooperative working relations with those Specialized Agencies of the United Nations and other international organizations having a scientific or technical interest in Antarctica. Article IV1. Nothing contained in the present treaty shall be interpreted as: a renunciation by any Contracting Party of asserted rights of or claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica. 2. No acts or activities taking place while the present treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica. No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim, to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present treaty is in force. Article V1. Any nuclear explosions in Antarctica and the disposal there of radioactive waste material shall be prohibited. 2. In the event of the conclusion of international agreements concerning the use of nuclear energy, including nuclear explosions and the disposal of radioactive waste material, to which all of the Contracting Parties whose representatives are entitled to participate in the meetings provided for under Article IX are parties, the rules established under such agreements shall apply in Antarctica.
Article VIThe provisions of the present treaty shall apply to the area south of 60 degree South Latitude, including all ice shelves, but nothing in the present treaty shall prejudice or in any way affect the rights, or the exercise of the rights, of any State under international law with regard to the high seas within that area. Article VII1. In order to promote the objectives and ensure the observance of the provisions of the present treaty, each Contracting Party whose representatives are entitled to participate in the meetings referred to in Article IX of the treaty shall have the right to designate observers to carry out any inspection provided for by the present Article. Observers shall be nationals of the Contracting Parties; the names of observers shall be communicated to every other Contracting Party having the right to designate observers, like notice shall be given of the termination of their appointment. 2. Each observer designated in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article shall have complete freedom of access at any time to any or all areas of Antarctica.
3. All areas of Antarctica, including all stations and equipment within those areas, all ships and aircraft at points of discharging or embarking cargoes or personnel in Antarctica, shall be open at all times to inspection by any observers designated in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article. 4. Aerial observation may be carried ou