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Antarctica

This article is about the continent. For other uses, see ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more
Antarctica (disambiguation).
than 4,000 scientists from many nations.
Antarctica (US English i /ntrktk/, UK English
/ntktk/ or /nttk/[note 1] ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and
is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and
is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,000,000
square kilometres (5,400,000 square miles), it is the fthlargest continent. For comparison, Antarctica is nearly
twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is
covered by ice that averages 1.9 km (1.2 mi; 6,200 ft)
in thickness,[5] which extends to all but the northernmost
reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.

1 Etymology

Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of
all the continents.[6] Antarctica is a desert, with annual
precipitation of only 200 mm (8 in) along the coast and far
less inland.[7] The temperature in Antarctica has reached
89.2 C (128.6 F), though the average for the third
quarter (the coldest part of the year) is 63 C (81 F).
As of 2016, there are about 135 permanent residents,
but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside through- Adelie penguins in Antarctica
out the year at the research stations scattered across the
continent. Organisms native to Antarctica include many
types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and cerThe name Antarctica is the romanized version of the
tain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals
Greek compound word (antarktik), femiand tardigrades. Vegetation, where it occurs, is tundra.
nine of (antarktikos),[8] meaning opposite
Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis to the Arctic", opposite to the north.[9]
(Southern Land) date back to antiquity, Antarctica is
Aristotle wrote in his book Meteorology about an Antarcnoted as the last region on Earth in recorded history to be
tic region in c. 350 B.C.[10] Marinus of Tyre reportedly
discovered and/or colonized by humans, being only rst
used the name in his unpreserved world map from the 2nd
sighted in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gotcentury A.D. The Roman authors Hyginus and Apuleius
tlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on Vostok
(12 centuries A.D.) used for the South Pole the romanand Mirny, who sighted the Fimbul ice shelf. The contiized Greek name polus antarcticus,[11][12] from which denent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of
rived the Old French pole antartike (modern ple antarcthe 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack
tique) attested in 1270, and from there the Middle Enof easily accessible resources, and isolation. In 1895, the
glish pol antartik in a 1391 technical treatise by Georey
rst conrmed landing was conducted by a team of NorChaucer (modern Antarctic Pole).[13]
wegians.
Before acquiring its present geographical connotations,
Antarctica is a de facto condominium, governed by parthe term was used for other locations that could be dened
ties to the Antarctic Treaty System that have consulting
as opposite to the north. For example, the short-lived
status. Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in
French colony established in Brazil in the 16th century
1959, and thirty-eight have signed it since then. The
was called "France Antarctique".
treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining,
prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, The rst formal use of the name Antarctica as a consupports scientic research, and protects the continents tinental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish
cartographer John George Bartholomew.[14]
1

2 HISTORY OF EXPLORATION

History of exploration

Main article: History of Antarctica


See also: List of Antarctic expeditions and Women in
Antarctica
Antarctica has no indigenous population and there is no
evidence that it was seen by humans until the 19th century. However, belief in the existence of a Terra Australisa vast continent in the far south of the globe
to balance the northern lands of Europe, Asia and
North Africahad existed since the times of Ptolemy
(1st century AD), who suggested the idea to preserve the
symmetry of all known landmasses in the world. Even
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.

Cook came within about 120 km (75 mi) of the Antarctic coast before retreating in the face of eld ice in January 1773.[17] The rst conrmed sighting of Antarctica can be narrowed down to the crews of ships captained by three individuals. According to various organizations (the National Science Foundation,[18] NASA,[19]
the University of California, San Diego,[20] and other
sources),[21][22] ships captained by three men sighted
Antarctica or its ice shelf in 1820: von Bellingshausen
(a captain in the Imperial Russian Navy), Edward Branseld (a captain in the Royal Navy), and Nathaniel Palmer
(a sealer out of Stonington, Connecticut). The expedition
led by von Bellingshausen and Lazarev on the ships Vostok and Mirny reached a point within 32 km (20 mi) from
Queen Mauds Land and recorded the sight of an ice shelf
at 692128S 21450W / 69.35778S 2.24722W,[23]
which became known as the Fimbul ice shelf. This happened three days before Branseld sighted land, and ten
months before Palmer did so in November 1820. The
rst documented landing on Antarctica was by the American sealer John Davis, apparently at Hughes Bay, near
Cape Charles, in West Antarctica on 7 February 1821,
although some historians dispute this claim.[24][25] The
rst recorded and conrmed landing was at Cape Adair
in 1895.[26]

Painting of James Weddell's second expedition in 1823, depicting


the brig Jane and the cutter Beaufroy

Integral to the story of the origin of the name Antarctica


is how it was not named Terra Australisthis name was
given to Australia instead, and it was because of a mistake
made by people who decided that a signicant landmass
would not be found farther south than Australia. Explorer
Matthew Flinders, in particular, has been credited with
popularizing the transfer of the name Terra Australis to
Australia. He justied the titling of his book A Voyage to Nimrod Expedition South Pole Party (left to right): Wild,
Shackleton, Marshall and Adams
Terra Australis (1814) by writing in the introduction:
There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will
ever be found in a more southern latitude; the
name Terra Australis will, therefore, remain
descriptive of the geographical importance of
this country and of its situation on the globe: it
has antiquity to recommend it; and, having no
reference to either of the two claiming nations,
appears to be less objectionable than any other
which could have been selected.[15]
European maps continued to show this hypothesized land
until Captain James Cook's ships, HMS Resolution and Roald Amundsen and his crew looking at the Norwegian ag at
Adventure, crossed the Antarctic Circle on 17 January the South Pole, 1911
1773, in December 1773 and again in January 1774.[16]

3
Richard E. Byrd led several voyages to the Antarctic
by plane in the 1930s and 1940s. He is credited with
implementing mechanised land transport on the continent and conducting extensive geological and biological
research.[33] The rst women to set foot on Antarctica did
so in the 1930s with Caroline Mikkelsen landing on an
island of Antarctica in 1935,[34] and Ingrid Christensen
stepping onto the mainland in 1937.[35][36][37]

Dumont d'Urville Station, an example of modern human settlement in Antarctica

It was not until 31 October 1956 that anyone set foot on


the South Pole again; on that day a U.S. Navy group led
by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek successfully landed an
aircraft there.[38] The rst women to step onto the South
Pole were Pam Young, Jean Pearson, Lois Jones, Eileen
McSaveney, Kay Lindsay and Terry Tickhill in 1969.[39]

The rst person to sail single-handed to Antarctica was


the New Zealander David Henry Lewis, in 1972, in the
On 22 January 1840, two days after the discovery of
10-metre steel sloop Ice Bird.
the coast west of the Balleny Islands, some members of
the crew of the 183740 expedition of Jules Dumont
d'Urville disembarked on the highest islet[27] of a group
of rocky islands about 4 km from Cape Godsie on the 3 Geography
coast of Adlie Land where they took some mineral, algae and animal samples.[28]
Main article: Geography of Antarctica
In December 1839, as part of the United States Exploring See also: Extreme points of Antarctica and List of
Expedition of 183842 conducted by the United States Antarctic and subantarctic islands
Navy (sometimes called the Ex. Ex., or the Wilkes Ex- Positioned asymmetrically around the South Pole and

HA

LA
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LA

AMERY
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w o r th

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ar

WILHELM II
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Queen
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Range

QUEEN MARY
LAND

Subglacial
Lake Vostok

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E
IC

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Mt Erebus

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H
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F

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ROSS
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IA LAND

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MARIE
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Thiel
Mtns
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WEST
ANTARCTICA

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EAST ANTARCTICA

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Scott Mtns

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During the Nimrod Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton


in 1907, parties led by Edgeworth David became the rst
to climb Mount Erebus and to reach the South Magnetic
Pole. Douglas Mawson, who assumed the leadership of
the Magnetic Pole party on their perilous return, went on
to lead several expeditions until retiring in 1931.[31] In
addition, Shackleton himself and three other members
of his expedition made several rsts in December 1908
February 1909: they were the rst humans to traverse
the Ross Ice Shelf, the rst to traverse the Transantarctic
Mountains (via the Beardmore Glacier), and the rst to
set foot on the South Polar Plateau. An expedition led
by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen from the
ship Fram became the rst to reach the geographic South
Pole on 14 December 1911, using a route from the Bay of
Whales and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier.[32] One month
later, the doomed Scott Expedition reached the pole.

G HK ON VI
I

BULIS E N
FIM

bulheimen
Fim

Palmer (USA)

Explorer James Clark Ross passed through what is now


known as the Ross Sea and discovered Ross Island (both
of which were named after him) in 1841. He sailed along
a huge wall of ice that was later named the Ross Ice Shelf.
Mount Erebus and Mount Terror are named after two
ships from his expedition: HMS Erebus and Terror.[29]
Mercator Cooper landed in East Antarctica on 26 January 1853.[30]

KON

South Orkney Is

Signy (UK)

pedition), an expedition sailed from Sydney, Australia,


into the Antarctic Ocean, as it was then known, and reported the discovery of an Antarctic continent west of
the Balleny Islands on 25 January 1840. That part of
Antarctica was later named "Wilkes Land", a name it retains to this day.

180

1000

2000

Km
0

200

400

600

800 1000

Miles

Labeled map of Antarctica

largely south of the Antarctic Circle, Antarctica is


the southernmost continent and is surrounded by the
Southern Ocean; alternatively, it may be considered to be
surrounded by the southern Pacic, Atlantic, and Indian
Oceans, or by the southern waters of the World Ocean.
There are a number of rivers and lakes in Antarctica, the
longest river being the Onyx. The largest lake, Vostok, is
one of the largest sub-glacial lakes in the world. Antarctica covers more than 14,000,000 km2 (5,400,000 sq
mi),[1] making it the fth-largest continent, about 1.3
times as large as Europe. The coastline measures 17,968

GEOLOGY

km (11,165 mi)[1] and is mostly characterized by ice formations, as the following table shows:
Antarctica is divided in two by the Transantarctic Mountains close to the neck between the Ross Sea and the
Weddell Sea. The portion west of the Weddell Sea and
east of the Ross Sea is called West Antarctica and the
remainder East Antarctica, because they roughly correspond to the Western and Eastern Hemispheres relative
to the Greenwich meridian.

Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Ross Island

m (16,050 ft), is located in the Ellsworth Mountains.


Antarctica contains many other mountains, on both the
main continent and the surrounding islands. Mount Erebus on Ross Island is the worlds southernmost active volcano. Another well-known volcano is found on Deception
Island, which is famous for a giant eruption in 1970. Minor eruptions are frequent and lava ow has been observed in recent years. Other dormant volcanoes may
potentially be active.[42] In 2004, a potentially active underwater volcano was found in the Antarctic Peninsula by
American and Canadian researchers.[43]
Antarctica is home to more than 70 lakes that lie at the
base of the continental ice sheet. Lake Vostok, discovered beneath Russias Vostok Station in 1996, is the
About 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice largest of these subglacial lakes. It was once believed that
sheet, a sheet of ice averaging at least 1.6 km (1.0 mi) the lake had been sealed o for 500,000 to one million
thick. The continent has about 90% of the worlds ice years but a recent survey suggests that, every so often,
(and thereby about 70% of the worlds fresh water). If there are large ows of water from one lake to another.[44]
all of this ice were melted, sea levels would rise about
60 m (200 ft).[41] In most of the interior of the continent, There is some evidence, in the form of ice cores drilled
precipitation is very low, down to 20 mm (0.8 in) per year; to about 400 m (1,300 ft) above the water line, that
in a few "blue ice" areas precipitation is lower than mass Lake Vostoks waters may contain microbial life. The
loss by sublimation and so the local mass balance is nega- frozen surface of the lake shares similarities with Jupiter's
tive. In the dry valleys, the same eect occurs over a rock moon, Europa. If life is discovered in Lake Vostok, it
would strengthen the argument for the possibility of life
base, leading to a desiccated landscape.
on Europa.[45][46] On 7 February 2008, a NASA team
West Antarctica is covered by the West Antarctic Ice embarked on a mission to Lake Untersee, searching for
Sheet. The sheet has been of recent concern because extremophiles in its highly alkaline waters. If found,
of the real, if small, possibility of its collapse. If the these resilient creatures could further bolster the argusheet were to break down, ocean levels would rise by ment for extraterrestrial life in extremely cold, methaneseveral metres in a relatively geologically short period of rich environments.[47]
time, perhaps a matter of centuries. Several Antarctic ice
streams, which account for about 10% of the ice sheet,
ow to one of the many Antarctic ice shelves: see ice4 Geology
sheet dynamics.
Elevation coloured by relief height

East Antarctica lies on the Indian Ocean side of the


Main article: Geology of Antarctica
Transantarctic Mountains and comprises Coats Land,
Queen Maud Land, Enderby Land, Mac. Robertson
Land, Wilkes Land, and Victoria Land. All but a small
portion of this region lies within the Eastern Hemisphere.
4.1 Geological history and paleontology
East Antarctica is largely covered by the East Antarctic
Ice Sheet.
More than 170 million years ago, Antarctica was part
Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica at 4,892 of the supercontinent Gondwana. Over time, Gondwana

4.1

Geological history and paleontology

The bedrock topography of Antarctica, critical to understand dynamic motion of the continental ice sheets

The above map shows the subglacial topography of Antarctica.


As indicated by the scale on left-hand side, blue represents portion
of Antarctica lying below sea level. The other colours indicate
Antarctic bedrock lying above sea level. Each colour represents
an interval of 760 m (2,500 ft) in elevation. Map is not corrected for sea level rise or isostatic rebound, which would occur
if the Antarctic ice sheet completely melted to expose the bedrock
surface.

Subglacial topography and bathymetry of bedrock underlying


Antarctica ice sheet

gradually broke apart and Antarctica as we know it today was formed around 25 million years ago. Antarctica
was not always cold, dry, and covered in ice sheets. At a
number of points in its long history, it was farther north,
experienced a tropical or temperate climate, was covered
in forests, and inhabited by various ancient life forms.
4.1.1

Palaeozoic era (540250 Ma)

During the Cambrian period, Gondwana had a mild climate. West Antarctica was partially in the Northern
Hemisphere, and during this period large amounts
of sandstones, limestones and shales were deposited.
East Antarctica was at the equator, where sea oor
invertebrates and trilobites ourished in the tropical seas.
By the start of the Devonian period (416 Ma), Gondwana was in more southern latitudes and the climate
was cooler, though fossils of land plants are known from
this time. Sand and silts were laid down in what is
now the Ellsworth, Horlick and Pensacola Mountains.
Glaciation began at the end of the Devonian period (360
Ma), as Gondwana became centered on the South Pole

Topographic map of Antarctica after removing the ice sheet and


accounting for both isostatic rebound and sea level rise. Hence,
this map suggests what Antarctica may have looked like 35 million years ago, when the Earth was warm enough to prevent the
formation of large-scale ice sheets in Antarctica.

and the climate cooled, though ora remained. During


the Permian period, the land became dominated by seed

GEOLOGY

plants such as Glossopteris, a pteridosperm which grew CO2 levels became more important.[54] The ice began to
in swamps. Over time these swamps became deposits of spread, replacing the forests that then covered the conticoal in the Transantarctic Mountains. Towards the end of nent.
the Permian period, continued warming led to a dry, hot
climate over much of Gondwana.[48]
4.1.4 Neogene Period (230.05 Ma)
4.1.2

Mesozoic era (25066 Ma)

As a result of continued warming, the polar ice caps


melted and much of Gondwana became a desert. In
Eastern Antarctica, seed ferns or pteridosperms became
abundant and large amounts of sandstone and shale were
laid down at this time. Synapsids, commonly known
as mammal-like reptiles, were common in Antarctica
during the Early Triassic and included forms such as
Lystrosaurus. The Antarctic Peninsula began to form during the Jurassic period (206146 Ma), and islands gradually rose out of the ocean. Ginkgo trees, conifers, bennettites, horsetails, ferns and cycads were plentiful during this period. In West Antarctica, coniferous forests
dominated through the entire Cretaceous period (146
66 Ma), though southern beech became more prominent
towards the end of this period. Ammonites were common in the seas around Antarctica, and dinosaurs were
also present, though only three Antarctic dinosaur genera
(Cryolophosaurus and Glacialisaurus, from the Hanson
Formation,[49] and Antarctopelta) have been described to
date.[50] It was during this era that Gondwana began to
break up.

Since about 15 Ma, the continent has been mostly covered


with ice.[55]
4.1.5 Meyer Desert Formation biota
Main article: Meyer Desert Formation biota
Fossil Nothofagus leaves in the Meyer Desert Formation
of the Sirius Group show that intermittent warm periods allowed Nothofagus shrubs to cling to the Dominion
Range as late as 34 Ma (mid-late Pliocene).[56] After
that the Pleistocene ice age covered the whole continent
and destroyed all major plant life on it.[57]

4.2 Present-day

However, there is some evidence of antarctic marine


glaciation during the Cretaceous period.[51]
4.1.3

Gondwana breakup (16023 Ma)

The cooling of Antarctica occurred stepwise, as the continental spread changed the oceanic currents from longitudinal equator-to-pole temperature-equalizing currents
Glaciers and rock outcrops in Marie Byrd Land seen from
to latitudinal currents that preserved and accentuated lat- NASAs DC-8 aircraft
itude temperature dierences.
Africa separated from Antarctica in the Jurassic, around
160 Ma, followed by the Indian subcontinent in the early
Cretaceous (about 125 Ma). By the end of the Cretaceous, about 66 Ma, Antarctica (then connected to Australia) still had a subtropical climate and ora, complete
with a marsupial fauna.[52] In the Eocene epoch, about
40 Ma Australia-New Guinea separated from Antarctica, so that latitudinal currents could isolate Antarctica
from Australia, and the rst ice began to appear. During
the EoceneOligocene extinction event about 34 million
years ago, CO2 levels have been found to be about 760
ppm[53] and had been decreasing from earlier levels in
the thousands of ppm.
Around 23 Ma, the Drake Passage opened between
Antarctica and South America, resulting in the Antarctic
Circumpolar Current that completely isolated the continent. Models of the changes suggest that declining

The geological study of Antarctica has been greatly hindered by nearly all of the continent being permanently
covered with a thick layer of ice.[58] However, new techniques such as remote sensing, ground-penetrating radar
and satellite imagery have begun to reveal the structures
beneath the ice.
Geologically, West Antarctica closely resembles
the Andes mountain range of South America.[48]
The Antarctic Peninsula was formed by uplift and
metamorphism of sea bed sediments during the late
Paleozoic and the early Mesozoic eras. This sediment
uplift was accompanied by igneous intrusions and
volcanism. The most common rocks in West Antarctica
are andesite and rhyolite volcanics formed during the
Jurassic period. There is also evidence of volcanic
activity, even after the ice sheet had formed, in Marie
Byrd Land and Alexander Island. The only anomalous

7
area of West Antarctica is the Ellsworth Mountains
region, where the stratigraphy is more similar to East
Antarctica.
East Antarctica is geologically varied, dating from the
Precambrian era, with some rocks formed more than 3
billion years ago. It is composed of a metamorphic and
igneous platform which is the basis of the continental
shield. On top of this base are coal and various modern rocks, such as sandstones, limestones and shales laid
down during the Devonian and Jurassic periods to form
the Transantarctic Mountains. In coastal areas such as
Shackleton Range and Victoria Land some faulting has
occurred.
The main mineral resource known on the continent is
coal.[55] It was rst recorded near the Beardmore Glacier
by Frank Wild on the Nimrod Expedition, and now lowgrade coal is known across many parts of the Transantarctic Mountains. The Prince Charles Mountains contain
signicant deposits of iron ore. The most valuable resources of Antarctica lie oshore, namely the oil and
natural gas elds found in the Ross Sea in 1973. Exploitation of all mineral resources is banned until 2048 by
the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.

Near the coast, December looks fairly temperate.

cm (4 in) per year, on average. Temperatures reach a


minimum of between 80 C (112 F) and 89.2 C
(128.6 F) in the interior in winter and reach a maximum of between 5 C (41 F) and 15 C (59 F) near
the coast in summer. Sunburn is often a health issue as
the snow surface reects almost all of the ultraviolet light
falling on it. Given the latitude, long periods of constant
darkness or constant sunlight create climates unfamiliar
to human beings in much of the rest of the world.[60]

Climate

Main article: Climate of Antarctica


Antarctica is the coldest of Earth's continents. The cold-

The snow surface at Dome C Station is typical of most of the


continents surface.

The blue ice covering Lake Fryxell, in the Transantarctic Mountains, comes from glacial meltwater from the Canada Glacier
and other smaller glaciers.

est natural temperature ever recorded on Earth was 89.2


C (128.6 F) at the Soviet (now Russian) Vostok Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983.[59] For comparison,
this is 10.7 C (20 F) colder than subliming dry ice at
one atmosphere of partial pressure, but since CO2 only
makes up 0.039% of air, temperatures of less than 150
C (238 F) would be needed to produce dry ice snow
in Antarctica. Antarctica is a frozen desert with little
precipitation; the South Pole itself receives less than 10

East Antarctica is colder than its western counterpart because of its higher elevation. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent, leaving the centre cold and
dry. Despite the lack of precipitation over the central portion of the continent, ice there lasts for extended periods.
Heavy snowfalls are common on the coastal portion of the
continent, where snowfalls of up to 1.22 metres (48 in) in
48 hours have been recorded.
At the edge of the continent, strong katabatic winds o
the polar plateau often blow at storm force. In the interior,
wind speeds are typically moderate. During clear days in
summer, more solar radiation reaches the surface at the
South Pole than at the equator because of the 24 hours of
sunlight each day at the Pole.[1]

POPULATION

Antarctica is colder than the Arctic for three reasons. 2004 at the Russian Bellingshausen Stationis manned
First, much of the continent is more than 3,000 m (9,800 year-round by one or two priests, who are similarly roft) above sea level, and temperature decreases with eleva- tated every year.[62][63]
tion in the troposphere. Second, the Arctic Ocean covers
the north polar zone: the oceans relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in
the Arctic regions from reaching the extremes typical of
the land surface of Antarctica. Third, the Earth is at
aphelion in July (i.e., the Earth is farthest from the Sun
in the Antarctic winter), and the Earth is at perihelion in
January (i.e., the Earth is closest to the Sun in the Antarctic summer). The orbital distance contributes to a colder
Antarctic winter (and a warmer Antarctic summer) but
the rst two eects have more impact.[61]
The aurora australis, commonly known as the southern
lights, is a glow observed in the night sky near the South
Pole created by the plasma-full solar winds that pass by
the Earth. Another unique spectacle is diamond dust, a
ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals. It generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies,
so people sometimes also refer to it as clear-sky precipitation. A sun dog, a frequent atmospheric optical phenomenon, is a bright spot beside the true sun.[60]

Port Lockroy Museum

The rst semi-permanent inhabitants of regions near


Antarctica (areas situated south of the Antarctic Convergence) were British and American sealers who used to
spend a year or more on South Georgia, from 1786 onward. During the whaling era, which lasted until 1966,
the population of that island varied from over 1,000 in
6 Population
the summer (over 2,000 in some years) to some 200 in
the winter. Most of the whalers were Norwegian, with
See also: Demographics of Antarctica and Research sta- an increasing proportion of Britons. The settlements included Grytviken, Leith Harbour, King Edward Point,
tions in Antarctica
Several governments maintain permanent manned Stromness, Husvik, Prince Olav Harbour, Ocean Harbour and Godthul. Managers and other senior ocers of
the whaling stations often lived together with their families. Among them was the founder of Grytviken, Captain
Carl Anton Larsen, a prominent Norwegian whaler and
explorer who, along with his family, adopted British citizenship in 1910.
The rst child born in the southern polar region was Norwegian girl Solveig Gunbjrg Jacobsen, born in Grytviken
on 8 October 1913, and her birth was registered by the
resident British Magistrate of South Georgia. She was a
daughter of Fridthjof Jacobsen, the assistant manager of
the whaling station, and Klara Olette Jacobsen. Jacobsen
arrived on the island in 1904 and became the manager of
Grytviken, serving from 1914 to 1921; two of his children were born on the island.[64]
The ceremonial South Pole, at AmundsenScott Station

research stations on the continent. The number of people


conducting and supporting scientic research and other
work on the continent and its nearby islands varies from
about 1,000 in winter to about 5,000 in the summer, giving it a population density between 70 and 350 inhabitants
per million square kilometres (180 and 900 per million
square miles) at these times. Many of the stations are
staed year-round, the winter-over personnel typically arriving from their home countries for a one-year assignment. An Orthodox churchTrinity Church, opened in

Emilio Marcos Palma was the rst person born south of


the 60th parallel south (the continental limit according to
the Antarctic Treaty),[65] as well as the rst one born on
the Antarctic mainland, in 1978 at Base Esperanza, on the
tip of the Antarctic Peninsula;[66][67] his parents were sent
there along with seven other families by the Argentine
government to determine if the continent was suitable for
family life. In 1984, Juan Pablo Camacho was born at the
Frei Montalva Station, becoming the rst Chilean born in
Antarctica. Several bases are now home to families with
children attending schools at the station.[68] As of 2009,
eleven children were born in Antarctica (south of the 60th

7.2

Fungi

parallel south): eight at the Argentine Esperanza Base[69]


and three at the Chilean Frei Montalva Station.[70]

9
lashes. 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
7 Biodiversity
States and the United Kingdom. The Weddell seal, a "true
seal", is named after Sir James Weddell, commander of
See also: Antarctic ecozone, Antarctic microorganism, British sealing expeditions in the Weddell Sea. Antarctic
krill, which congregate in large schools, is the keystone
and Wildlife of Antarctica
species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, and is an
important food organism for whales, seals, leopard seals,
fur seals, squid, icesh, penguins, albatrosses and many
other birds.[74]
A census of sea life carried out during the International
Polar Year and which involved some 500 researchers was
released in 2010. The research is part of the global
Census of Marine Life (CoML) and has disclosed some
remarkable ndings. More than 235 marine organisms
live in both polar regions, having bridged the gap of
12,000 km (7,456 mi). Large animals such as some
cetaceans and birds make the round trip annually. More
surprising are small forms of life such as sea cucumbers,
and free-swimming snails found in both polar oceans.
Various factors may aid in their distribution fairly uniform temperatures of the deep ocean at the poles and the
equator which dier by no more than 5 C, and the major
current systems or marine conveyor belt which transport
eggs and larval stages.[75]

7.2 Fungi

Emperor penguins in Ross Sea, Antarctica

7.1

Animals

Few terrestrial vertebrates live in Antarctica.[71] Invertebrate life includes microscopic mites like the Alaskozetes
antarcticus, lice, nematodes, tardigrades, rotifers, krill
and springtails. The ightless midge Belgica antarctica,
up to 6 mm (1 4 in) in size, is the largest purely terrestrial
animal in Antarctica.[72] The snow petrel is one of only
three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica.[73]
Some species of marine animals exist and rely, directly
or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and
fur seals. The emperor penguin is the only penguin that
breeds during the winter in Antarctica, while the Adlie
penguin breeds farther south than any other penguin.
The southern rockhopper penguin has distinctive feathers
around the eyes, giving the appearance of elaborate eye-

About 400 species of lichen-forming fungi are known to exist in


Antarctica.

About 1,150 species of fungi have been recorded from


Antarctica, of which about 750 are non-lichen-forming
and 400 are lichen-forming.[76][77] Some of these species
are cryptoendoliths as a result of evolution under extreme
conditions, and have signicantly contributed to shaping the impressive rock formations of the McMurdo Dry

10

8 POLITICS

Valleys and surrounding mountain ridges. The appar- and dark as deep as 800 m (0.50 mi; 2,600 ft) under the
ently simple morphology, scarcely dierentiated struc- ice.[82]
tures, metabolic systems and enzymes still active at very
low temperatures, and reduced life cycles shown by such
fungi make them particularly suited to harsh environ- 7.5 Conservation
ments such as the McMurdo Dry Valleys. In particular, their thick-walled and strongly melanized cells make
them resistant to UV light. Those features can also be observed in algae and cyanobacteria, suggesting that these
are adaptations to the conditions prevailing in Antarctica. This has led to speculation that, if life ever occurred on Mars, it might have looked similar to Antarctic fungi such as Cryomyces antarcticus, and Cryomyces
minteri.[78] Some of these fungi are also apparently endemic to Antarctica. Endemic Antarctic fungi also include certain dung-inhabiting species which have had to
evolve in response to the double challenge of extreme cold
while growing on dung, and the need to survive passage
through the gut of warm-blooded animals.[79]

7.3

Plants

The climate of Antarctica does not allow extensive vegetation to form. A combination of freezing temperatures,
poor soil quality, lack of moisture, and lack of sunlight inhibit plant growth. As a result, the diversity of plant life
is very low and limited in distribution. The ora of the
continent largely consists of bryophytes. There are about
100 species of mosses and 25 species of liverworts, but
only three species of owering plants, all of which are
found in the Antarctic Peninsula: Deschampsia antarctica (Antarctic hair grass), Colobanthus quitensis (Antarctic pearlwort) and the non-native Poa annua (annual
bluegrass).[80] Growth is restricted to a few weeks in the
summer.[76][81]

7.4

Other organisms

The dumping of waste, including old vehicles, such as here at the


Russian Bellingshausen Station in 1992, is prohibited since the
entry into force of the Protocol on Environmental Protection in
1998.

The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (also known as the Environmental Protocol or
Madrid Protocol) came into force in 1998, and is the main
instrument concerned with conservation and management
of biodiversity in Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting is advised on environmental and conservation issues in Antarctica by the Committee for Environmental Protection. A major concern within this committee is the risk to Antarctica from unintentional introduction of non-native species from outside the region.[83]
The passing of the Antarctic Conservation Act (1978)
in the U.S. brought several restrictions to U.S. activity
on Antarctica. The introduction of alien plants or animals can bring a criminal penalty, as can the extraction
of any indigenous species. The overshing of krill, which
plays a large role in the Antarctic ecosystem, led ocials to enact regulations on shing. The Convention for
the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
(CCAMLR), a treaty that came into force in 1980, requires that regulations managing all Southern Ocean sheries consider potential eects on the entire Antarctic
ecosystem.[1] Despite these new acts, unregulated and illegal shing, particularly of Patagonian toothsh (marketed as Chilean Sea Bass in the U.S.), remains a serious
problem. The illegal shing of toothsh has been increasing, with estimates of 32,000 tonnes (35,300 short tons)
in 2000.[84][85]

Red uid pours out of Blood Falls at Taylor Glacier. The colour
derives from iron oxides.

Seven hundred species of algae exist, most of which are 8 Politics


phytoplankton. Multicoloured snow algae and diatoms
are especially abundant in the coastal regions during the Several countries claim sovereignty in certain regions.
summer.[81] Bacteria have been found living in the cold While a few of these countries have mutually recognized

8.1

Antarctic territories

Emblem of the Antarctic Treaty since 2002.

29 National Antarctic Programs together supporting science in


Antarctica (2009)
[86]

each others claims, the validity of these claims is not


recognized universally.[1]
New claims on Antarctica have been suspended since
1959 although Norway in 2015 formally dened Queen
Maud Land as including the unclaimed area between it
and the South Pole.[87] Antarcticas status is regulated by
the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and other related agreements,
collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System. Antarctica is dened as all land and ice shelves south of 60 S for
the purposes of the Treaty System. The treaty was signed
by twelve countries including the Soviet Union (and
later Russia), the United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile,
Australia, and the United States.[88] It set aside Antarctica
as a scientic preserve, established freedom of scientic
investigation and environmental protection, and banned
military activity on Antarctica. This was the rst arms
control agreement established during the Cold War.

11
on a convention to regulate mining in Antarctica.[89]
A coalition of international organizations[90] launched a
public pressure campaign to prevent any minerals development in the region, led largely by Greenpeace International,[91] which operated its own scientic station
World Park Basein the Ross Sea region from 1987 until 1991[92] and conducted annual expeditions to document environmental eects of humans on Antarctica.[93]
In 1988, the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic
Mineral Resources (CRAMRA) was adopted.[94] The following year, however, Australia and France announced
that they would not ratify the convention, rendering it
dead for all intents and purposes. They proposed instead that a comprehensive regime to protect the Antarctic environment be negotiated in its place.[95] The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
(the Madrid Protocol) was negotiated as other countries followed suit and on 14 January 1998 it entered
into force.[95][96] The Madrid Protocol bans all mining in
Antarctica, designating Antarctica a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.

HMS Endurance: the Royal Navy's Antarctic patrol ship

The Antarctic Treaty prohibits any military activity in


Antarctica, including the establishment of military bases
and fortications, military manoeuvres, and weapons
testing. Military personnel or equipment are permitted
only for scientic research or other peaceful purposes.[97]
The only documented military land manoeuvre was
Operation NINETY by the Argentine military.[98]
The United States military issues the Antarctica Service
Medal to military members or civilians who serve in
Antarctica. The medal includes a wintered over bar issued to those who remain on Antarctica over winter.[99]

8.1 Antarctic territories


Main article: Territorial claims in Antarctica

The Argentine, British and Chilean claims all overlap,


In 1983 the Antarctic Treaty Parties began negotiations and have caused friction. On 18 December 2012, the

12

9 ECONOMY

British Foreign and Commonwealth Oce named a previously unnamed area Queen Elizabeth Land in tribute
to Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.[100] On 22 December 2012, the UK ambassador to Argentina, John
Freeman, was summoned to the Argentine government
as protest against the claim.[101] ArgentineUK relations
had previously been damaged throughout 2012 due to disputes over the sovereignty of the nearby Falkland Islands,
and the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
The areas shown as Australias and New Zealands claims
were British territory until they were handed over following the countries independence. Australia currently
claims the largest area. The claims of Britain, Australia,
New Zealand, France and Norway are all recognised by
Post oce Tangra 1091 Antarctic postal services of the Bulgarian
each other.
scientic station

Other countries participating as members of the Antarctic Treaty have a territorial interest in Antarctica, but the
provisions of the Treaty do not allow them to make their by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Opclaims while it is in force.[102][103]
erators (IAATO). Not all vessels associated with Antarctic tourism are members of IAATO, but IAATO mem
Brazil has a designated "zone of interest" that bers account for 95% of the tourist activity. Travel is
largely by small or medium ship, focusing on specic
is not an actual claim.[104]
scenic locations with accessible concentrations of iconic

Peru has formally reserved its right to make a wildlife. A total of 37,506 tourists visited during the
200607 Austral summer with nearly all of them comclaim.[102][103]
ing from commercial ships. The number was predicted

Russia has inherited the Soviet Unions right to increase to over 80,000 by 2010.[109][110]
to claim territory under the original Antarctic There has been some concern over the potential adverse
Treaty.[105]
environmental and ecosystem eects caused by the inux of visitors. Some environmentalists and scientists
have made a call for stricter regulations for ships and a
tourism quota.[111] The primary response by Antarctic
Treaty Parties has been to develop, through their Com
United States reserved its right to make a claim mittee for Environmental Protection and in partnership
in the original Antarctic Treaty.[105]
with IAATO, site use guidelines setting landing limits and closed or restricted zones on the more frequently
visited sites. Antarctic sightseeing ights (which did not
land) operated out of Australia and New Zealand until
9 Economy
the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 in 1979
There is no economic activity in Antarctica at present, on Mount Erebus, which killed all 257 aboard. Qantas
except for shing o the coast and small-scale tourism, resumed commercial overights to Antarctica from Australia in the mid-1990s.
both based outside Antarctica.[106]

South Africa has formally reserved its right to


make a claim.[102][103]

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.[107] 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 indenite ban on mining, to be reviewed in 2048, further limiting economic development
and exploitation. The primary economic activity is the
capture and oshore trading of sh. Antarctic sheries
in 200001 reported landing 112,934 tonnes.[108]

Antarctic sheries in 199899 (1 July 30 June) reported


landing 119,898 tonnes. Unregulated shing landed ve
to six times more than the regulated shery, and allegedly
illegal shing in Antarctic waters in 1998 resulted in the
seizure (by France and Australia) of at least eight shing
ships.
About thirty countries maintain about seventy research
stations (40 year-round or permanent, and 30 summeronly) in Antarctica, with an approximate population of
4000 in summer and 1000 in winter.[1]

The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 AQ is assigned to the entire


Small-scale expedition tourism has existed since 1957 continent regardless of jurisdiction. Dierent country
and is currently subject to Antarctic Treaty and Environ- calling codes and currencies[112] are used for dierent setmental Protocol provisions, but in eect self-regulated tlements, depending on the administrating country. The

10.1

Meteorites

13

Antarctican dollar, a souvenir item sold in the United the largest neutrino telescope in the world, built 2 km
States and Canada, is not legal tender.[1][113]
(1.2 mi) below AmundsenScott station.[114]
Since the 1970s an important focus of study has been the
ozone layer in the atmosphere above Antarctica. In 1985,
10 Research
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. It was eventually deterSee also: Research stations in Antarctica
Each year, scientists from 28 dierent nations conduct mined that the destruction of the ozone was caused by
chlorouorocarbons (CFCs) emitted by human products.
With the ban of CFCs in the Montreal Protocol of 1989,
climate projections indicate that the ozone layer will return to 1980 levels between 2050 and 2070.[115]
In September 2006 NASA satellite data revealed that the
Antarctic ozone hole was larger than at any other time
on record, at 2,750,000 km2 (1,060,000 sq mi).[116] The
impacts of the depleted ozone layer on climate changes
occurring in Antarctica are not well understood.[115]
In 2007 The Polar Geospatial Center was founded. The
Polar Geospatial Center uses geospatial and remote sensing technology to provide mapping services to American federally funded research teams. Currently, the Polar
A full moon and 25-second exposure allowed sucient light for Geospatial Center can image all of Antarctica at 50 cm
[117]
this photo to be taken at AmundsenScott South Pole Station dur- resolution every 45 days.
ing the long Antarctic night. The station can be seen at far left,
the power plant in the center and the mechanics garage in the
lower right. The green light in the background is the aurora.

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 just over 1,000
in the winter.[1] McMurdo Station, which is the largest
research station in Antarctica, 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 Gondwana.
Glaciologists in Antarctica are concerned with the study
of the history and dynamics of oating 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 aect adaptation
and survival strategies in a wide variety of organisms.
Medical physicians have made discoveries concerning
the spreading of viruses and the bodys response to
extreme seasonal temperatures.
Astrophysicists at
AmundsenScott 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

On 6 September 2007 Belgian-based International Polar Foundation unveiled the Princess Elisabeth station,
the worlds rst zero-emissions polar science station in
Antarctica to research climate change. Costing $16.3
million, the prefabricated station, which is part of the
International Polar Year, was 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
stated: This base will be the rst 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 conducts research in climatology, glaciology and
microbiology.[118]
In January 2008 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 Antarcticas ice sheet (based on
airborne survey with radar images). The biggest eruption
in Antarctica 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.[119]
A study from 2014 estimated that during the Pleistocene,
the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) thinned by at least
500 m (1,600 ft), and that thinning since the Last Glacial
Maximum for the EAIS area is less than 50 m (160 ft)
and probably started after c. 14 ka.[120]

10.1 Meteorites
Meteorites from Antarctica are an important area of study
of material formed early in the solar system; most are

14

11

ICE MASS AND GLOBAL SEA LEVEL

11 Ice mass and global sea level


See also: Current sea level rise
Due to its location at the South Pole, Antarctica receives

Antarctic meteorite, named ALH84001, from Mars

thought to come from asteroids, but some may have originated on larger planets. The rst meteorite was found
in 1912, and named the Adelie Land meteorite. 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 wellpreserved.[121]

The motion of ice in Antarctica

relatively little solar radiation. This means that it is a very


cold continent where water is mostly in the form of ice.
Precipitation is low (most of Antarctica is a desert) and
almost always in the form of snow, which accumulates
and forms a giant ice sheet which covers the land. Parts of
this ice sheet form moving glaciers known as ice streams,
which ow towards the edges of the continent. Next to the
continental shore are many ice shelves. These are oating
extensions of outowing glaciers from the continental ice
mass. Oshore, temperatures are also low enough that
ice is formed from seawater through most of the year. It
This large collection of meteorites allows a better under- is important to understand the various types of Antarctic
standing of the abundance of meteorite types in the solar ice to understand possible eects on sea levels and the
system and how meteorites relate to asteroids and comets. implications of global cooling.
New types of meteorites and rare meteorites have been Sea ice extent expands annually in the Antarctic winfound. Among these are pieces blasted o the Moon, ter and most of this ice melts in the summer. This ice
and probably Mars, by impacts. These specimens, par- is formed from the ocean water and oats in the same
ticularly ALH84001 discovered by ANSMET, are at the water and thus does not contribute to rise in sea level.
center of the controversy about possible evidence of mi- The extent of sea ice around Antarctica has remained
crobial life on Mars. Because meteorites in space absorb roughly constant in recent decades, although the thickand record cosmic radiation, the time elapsed since the ness changes are unclear.[124][125]
meteorite hit the Earth can be determined from laboratory studies. The elapsed time since fall, or terrestrial Melting of oating ice shelves (ice that originated on the
residence age, of a meteorite represents more information land) does not in itself contribute much to sea-level rise
that might be useful in environmental studies of Antarctic (since the ice displaces only its own mass of water). However it is the outow of the ice from the land to form the
ice sheets.[121]
ice shelf which causes a rise in global sea level. This efIn 2006 a team of researchers from Ohio State University fect is oset by snow falling back onto the continent. Reused gravity measurements by NASAs GRACE satel- cent decades have witnessed several dramatic collapses
lites to discover the 500-kilometre-wide (300 mi) Wilkes of large ice shelves around the coast of Antarctica, esLand crater, which probably formed about 250 million pecially along the Antarctic Peninsula. Concerns have
years ago.[122]
been raised that disruption of ice shelves may result in inIn January 2013 an 18 kg (40 lb) meteorite was discov- creased glacial outow from the continental ice mass.[126]
ered frozen in ice on the Nansen ice eld by a Search On the continent itself, the large volume of ice present
for Antarctic Meteorites, Belgian Approach (SAMBA) stores around 70% of the worlds fresh water.[41] This ice
mission.[123]
sheet is constantly gaining ice from snowfall and losing
In January 2015 reports emerged of a 2-kilometre (1.2
mi) circular structure, supposedly a meteorite crater, on
the surface snow of King Baudouin Ice Shelf. Satellite
images from 25 years ago seemingly show it.

ice through outow to the sea. Overall, the net change is


slightly positive at approximately 82 gigatonnes (Gt) per
year (with signicant regional variation), reducing global
sea-level rise by 0.23 mm per year.[127]

15
East Antarctica is a cold region with a ground base above
sea level and occupies most of the continent. This area is
dominated by small accumulations of snowfall which becomes ice and thus eventually seaward glacial ows. The
mass balance of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet as a whole
is thought to be slightly positive (lowering sea level) or
near to balance.[128][129][130] However, increased ice outow has been suggested in some regions.[129][131]

12

Eects of global warming

ice shelf at risk. The ice was being held back by a thread
of ice about 6 km (4 mi) wide,[139][140] prior to its collapse on 5 April 2009.[141][142] According to NASA, the
most widespread Antarctic surface melting of the past 30
years occurred in 2005, when an area of ice comparable
in size to California briey melted and refroze; this may
have resulted from temperatures rising to as high as 5 C
(41 F).[143]
A study published in Nature Geoscience in 2013 (online
in December 2012) identied central West Antarctica as
one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. The researchers present a complete temperature record from
Antarcticas Byrd Station and assert that it reveals a linear increase in annual temperature between 1958 and
2010 by 2.41.2 C.[144]

13 Ozone depletion

Warming trend from 1957 to 2006

See also:
Global warming in Antarctica and Antarctic sea ice
Some of Antarctica has been warming up; particularly
strong warming has been noted on the Antarctic Peninsula. A study by Eric Steig published in 2009 noted for
the rst time that the continent-wide average surface temperature trend of Antarctica is slightly positive at >0.05
C (0.09 F) per decade from 1957 to 2006. This study
also noted that West Antarctica has warmed by more than
0.1 C (0.2 F) per decade in the last 50 years, and this
warming is strongest in winter and spring. This is partly
oset by autumn cooling in East Antarctica.[132] There is
evidence from one study that Antarctica is warming as
a result of human carbon dioxide emissions,[133] but this
remains ambiguous.[134] The amount of surface warming
in West Antarctica, while large, has not led to appreciable melting at the surface, and is not directly aecting the
West Antarctic Ice Sheet's contribution to sea level. Instead the recent increases in glacier outow are believed
to be due to an inow of warm water from the deep ocean,
just o the continental shelf.[135][136] The net contribution
to sea level from the Antarctic Peninsula is more likely to
be a direct result of the much greater atmospheric warming there.[137]
In 2002 the Antarctic Peninsulas Larsen-B ice shelf
collapsed.[138] Between 28 February and 8 March 2008,
about 570 km2 (220 sq mi) of ice from the Wilkins Ice
Shelf on the southwest part of the peninsula collapsed,
putting the remaining 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi) of the

Image of the largest Antarctic ozone hole ever recorded due to


CFCs accumulation (September 2006)

Main article: Ozone depletion


There is a large area of low ozone concentration or "ozone
hole" over Antarctica. This hole covers almost the whole
continent and was at its largest in September 2008, when
the longest lasting hole on record remained until the end
of December.[145] The hole was detected by scientists in
1985[146] and has tended to increase over the years of observation. The ozone hole is attributed to the emission of
chlorouorocarbons or CFCs into the atmosphere, which
decompose the ozone into other gases.[147]
Some scientic studies suggest that ozone depletion
may have a dominant role in governing climatic change
in Antarctica (and a wider area of the Southern
Hemisphere).[146] Ozone absorbs large amounts of ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere. Ozone depletion over

16

16

Antarctica can cause a cooling of around 6 C in the lo- [7]


cal stratosphere. This cooling has the eect of intensifying the westerly winds which ow around the continent
(the polar vortex) and thus prevents outow of the cold
air near the South Pole. As a result, the continental mass [8]
of the East Antarctic ice sheet is held at lower temperatures, and the peripheral areas of Antarctica, especially
the Antarctic Peninsula, are subject to higher temperatures, which promote accelerated melting.[146] Models
also suggest that the ozone depletion/enhanced polar vor- [9]
tex eect also accounts for the recent increase in sea ice
just oshore of the continent.[148]
[10]

14

See also

Antarctic Plate
List of mountain ranges in Antarctica
Lists of places in Antarctica
North Pole

15

Notes

[1] The word was originally pronounced without the rst /k/
in English, but the spelling pronunciation has become
common and is often considered more correct. The pronunciation without the rst /k/ and the rst /t/ is however widespread and a typical phenomenon of English in
many other similar words too.[2] The c already ceased to
be pronounced in Medieval Latin and was dropped from
the spelling in Old French, but it was added back to the
spelling for etymological reasons in English in the 17th
century and then began to be pronounced, but (as with
other spelling pronunciations) at rst only by less educated
people.[3][4]

16

References

[1] United States Central Intelligence Agency (2011).


Antarctica. The World Factbook. Government of the
United States. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
[2] Antarctica. American Heritage Dictionary
[3] Crystal, David (2006). The Fight for English. Oxford University Press. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-19-920764-0.
[4] Harper, Douglas. Antarctic. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
[5] British Antarctic Survey. Bedmap2: improved ice bed,
surface and thickness datasets for Antarctica (PDF). The
Cryosphere journal: 390. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
[6] National Satellite, Data, and Information Service.
National Geophysical Data Center. Government of the
United States. Archived from the original on 13 June
2006. Retrieved 9 June 2006.

REFERENCES

Joyce, C. Alan (18 January 2007). The World at


a Glance: Surprising Facts. The World Almanac.
Archived from the original on 4 March 2009. Retrieved 7
February 2009.
Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. Antarktikos. In
Crane, Gregory R. A GreekEnglish Lexicon. Perseus
Digital Library. Tufts University. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
Hince, Bernadette (2000). The Antarctic Dictionary.
CSIRO Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-9577471-1-1.
Aristotle. Meteorologica. Book II, Part 5. 350 BC. Translated by E. Webster. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923. 140
pp.

[11] Hyginus. De astronomia. Ed. G. Vir. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1992. 176 pp.
[12] Apuleii. Opera omnia. Volumen tertium. London: Valpy,
1825. 544 pp.
[13] G. Chaucer. A Treatise on the Astrolabe. Approx. 1391.
Ed. W. Skeat. London: N. Trbner, 1872. 188 pp.
[14] John George Bartholomew and the naming of Antarctica,
CAIRT Issue 13, National Library of Scotland, July 2008,
ISSN 1477-4186, and also The Bartholomew Archive.
[15] Flinders, Matthew. A voyage to Terra Australis (Introduction). Retrieved 25 January 2013.
[16] Age of Exploration: John Cook. The Mariners Museum. Archived from the original on 7 February 2006.
Retrieved 12 February 2006.
[17] James Cook, The Journals, edited by Philip Edwards.
Penguin Books, 2003, p. 250.
[18] U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel of the National
Science Foundation. AntarcticaPast and Present
(PDF). Government of the United States. Archived
(PDF) from the original on 17 February 2006. Retrieved
6 February 2006.
[19] Guthridge, Guy G. Nathaniel Brown Palmer, 1799
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21

17

External links

Antarctica. on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)


Antarctic region at DMOZ
Antarctica. The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012
Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, de facto government
British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
U.S. Antarctic Program Portal
Australian Antarctic Division
South African National Antarctic Programme Ofcial Website
Portals on the World Antarctica from the Library
of Congress
NASAs LIMA (Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica) (USGS mirror)
The Antarctic Sun (Online newspaper of the U.S.
Antarctic Program)
Antarctica and New Zealand (NZHistory.net.nz)
Journey to Antarctica in 1959 slideshow by The
New York Times
Listen to Ernest Shackleton describing his 1908
South Pole Expedition
The recording describing Shackletons 1908 South
Pole Expedition was added to the National Film
and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in
2007
Map of Antarctican subglacial lakes
Video: The Bedrock Beneath Antarctica
Coordinates: 90S 0E / 90S 0E

22

18

18
18.1

TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


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Bletch, Kwamikagami, Episcopo, Kross, Worldtraveller, Aude, Shanes, Susvolans, Cacophony, Deanos, Orlady, Pablo X, Devil Master,
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Stwalkerster, Apcbg, Mr Stephen, Vaniba12, Cheiro de lysoform, Girmitya, Spazm, Waggers, Worldtimezone, Dalstadt, Mochachocca,

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24

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HMSLavender, Nayrb Rellimer, MrPahoehoe, Mndata, Ongwiki, Orduin, NotTheFakeJTP, Eteethan, Sonicwave32, Atvica, Alanjones5,
Awesomeshreyo, Eric0928, KasparBot, Fangirl.of.many.thingss,
, BU Rob13, MistahRigoh, Tpioustytpoiudh, Passtheoldbay,
Dickwang123, Laylalove12, Dr Malevalence, Trex10176, Timmy Gorguch, Mulalubaba, Mr.CHOWWW, CLCStudent, Maxdatswagkid,
Wulframm, Min al Khadr, Craziebutawesome, Priyatailor, Supergame413, UERMUREM, Revelman, Rockstartaneja, Moar24, NimitMistry, InternetArchiveBot, Ghg4310, Trobinson16, Epsilon4365, WelcometoJurassicPark, Eno Lirpa, GreenC bot, Kaboomnumber1,
Normakku, Bear-rings, Motivao, Hawkeye75, GrimmNator and Anonymous: 1943

18.2

Images

File:AA_bedrock_bedmap2.4960.tif Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/AA_bedrock_bedmap2.4960.tif


License: Public domain Contributors: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/antarctic-map.html Original artist: NASA Goddards Scientic Visualization Studio
File:ALH84001.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/ALH84001.jpg License: Public domain Contributors:
http://www-curator.jsc.nasa.gov/curator/antmet/marsmets/posslife.htm Original artist: NASA
File:Aan_de_Zuidpool_-_p1913-160.jpg Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Aan_de_Zuidpool_-_
p1913-160.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation: De Aarde en haar Volken, Jaargang
1913. HAARLEM, H. D. TJEENK WILLINK & ZOON. Original artist: Olav Bjaaland
File:Adelie_Penguins_on_iceberg.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Adelie_Penguins_on_iceberg.
jpg License: CC BY 2.0 Contributors: originally posted to Flickr as IMG_0760 Original artist: Jason Auch
File:Africa_(orthographic_projection).svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Africa_%28orthographic_
projection%29.svg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Martin23230
File:Afro-Eurasia_(orthographic_projection).svg Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Afro-Eurasia_
%28orthographic_projection%29.svg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Keepscases
File:Americas_(orthographic_projection).svg
Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ca/Americas_
%28orthographic_projection%29.svg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Martin23230
File:Amundsen-Scott_marsstation_ray_h_edit.jpg
Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/
Amundsen-Scott_marsstation_ray_h_edit.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: [1] Original artist: Photo by Chris Danals,
National Science Foundation
File:AmundsenScottSuedpolStation.jpg
Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/
AmundsenScottSuedpolStation.jpg License:
Public domain Contributors:
http://archive.defense.gov/photos/newsphoto.aspx?
newsphotoid=104 Original artist: DoD photo by Petty Ocer 2nd Class John K. Sokolowski, U.S. Navy.

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File:Antarctic-Postal-Services.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Antarctic-Postal-Services.jpg License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?


File:AntarcticBedrock.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/AntarcticBedrock.jpg License: CC BY 3.0
Contributors: This map was prepared from BEDMAP gridded data-set for bed-elevation south of 60 degrees S using Global Mapper 7.0.1.
The faint rectilinear pattern seen in the shaded relief is an artifact of the gridding of data from linear seismic surveys. The data used to
make this map came from A new ice thickness and subglacial topographic model of the Antarctic prepared by the BEDMAP Consortium,
which is sponsored by the European Ice Sheet Modelling Initiative, Scientic Committee on Antarctic Research. Original artist: Paul V.
heinrich
File:AntarcticBedrock2.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/AntarcticBedrock2.jpg License: CC BY 3.0
Contributors: Own work Original artist: Cristellaria
File:Antarctica,_Argentina_territorial_claim.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/Antarctica%2C_
Argentina_territorial_claim.svg License: CC BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: Generated from Antarctica by Lokal_Prol. Original artist:
Lokal_Prol
File:Antarctica,_Australia_territorial_claim.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Antarctica%2C_
Australia_territorial_claim.svg License: CC BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: Generated from Antarctica by Lokal_Prol. Original artist:
Lokal_Prol
File:Antarctica,_Chile_territorial_claim.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Antarctica%2C_Chile_
territorial_claim.svg License: CC BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: Generated from Antarctica by Lokal_Prol. Original artist: Lokal_Prol
File:Antarctica,_France_territorial_claim.svg Source:
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France_territorial_claim.svg License: CC BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: Generated from Antarctica by Lokal_Prol. Original artist:
Lokal_Prol
File:Antarctica,_New_Zealand_territorial_claim.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Antarctica%
2C_New_Zealand_territorial_claim.svg License: CC BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: Generated from Antarctica by Lokal_Prol. Original artist:
Lokal_Prol
File:Antarctica,_United_Kingdom_territorial_claim.svg
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Antarctica%2C_United_Kingdom_territorial_claim.svg License: CC BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: Generated from Antarctica, territorial claims.svg by Lokal_Prol. Original artist: Lokal_Prol
File:Antarctica,_pollution,_environment,_Russia,_Bellingshausen_1.JPG Source:
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commons/8/86/Antarctica%2C_pollution%2C_environment%2C_Russia%2C_Bellingshausen_1.JPG License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Loranchet
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File:Antarctica.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/Antarctica.svg License: Public domain Contributors:
extracted from http://lima.nasa.gov/pdf/A3_overview.pdf Original artist: Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica team
File:AntarcticaDomeCSnow.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/AntarcticaDomeCSnow.jpg License:
CC BY 2.5 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Stephen Hudson
File:AntarcticaSummer.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/AntarcticaSummer.jpg License: CC-BYSA-3.0 Contributors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image%3AAntarcticaSummer.jpg Original artist: Roux
File:AntarcticaTemps_1957-2006.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/AntarcticaTemps_1957-2006.
jpg License: Public domain Contributors: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36736 Original artist: Eric J. Steig (University of Washington), David P. Schneider (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Scott D. Rutherford (Roger Williams University),
Michael E. Mann (Pennsylvania State University), Joseno C. Comiso (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), and Drew T. Shindell (NASA
Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University)
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1957-2006a.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36736 Original artist:
Eric J. Steig (University of Washington), David P. Schneider (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Scott D. Rutherford (Roger
Williams University), Michael E. Mann (Pennsylvania State University), Joseno C. Comiso (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), and
Drew T. Shindell (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University)
File:Antarctica_(orthographic_projection).svg
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%28orthographic_projection%29.svg License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: This vector image was created with Inkscape. Original artist: <a href='//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Heraldry' title='User:Heraldry'>Heraldry</a>
File:Antarctica_Peter_I_Island.png Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Antarctica_Peter_I_Island.png License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
File:Antarctica_Station_Map.png Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Antarctica_Station_Map.png License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: https://www.comnap.aq/Publications/Comnap%20Publications/COMNAP_Map_Edition4_A0_
2009-03-26.pdf COMNAP Original artist: Teetaweepo
File:Antarctica_Without_Ice_Sheet.png Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Antarctica_Without_Ice_
Sheet.png License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/File:Antarctica_Without_Ice_Sheet_png Original artist: Image created by Robert A. Rohde / Global Warming Art
File:Antarctica_surface.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/Antarctica_surface.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
File:Asia_(orthographic_projection).svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Asia_%28orthographic_
projection%29.svg License: GFDL Contributors: National Geographic. Map by Ssolbergj
Aquarius.geomar.de
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Australia-New_Guinea_%28orthographic_projection%29.svg License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors:
hjkkj

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Australia_(orthographic_projection).svg: Ssolbergj

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artist:

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File:Flag_of_the_French_Southern_and_Antarctic_Lands.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Flag_


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Antarctica.ogv License: Public domain Contributors: NASA Original artist: NASA
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