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Climate - the average atmospheric conditions over long time periods, weeks, months, years.
Climate - the average atmospheric conditions over long time periods, weeks, months, years.,+Antarctica/@-77.8401191,166.6445298,7141m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0xaf773973ada5b34d:0xe241f2716549c551!2sMcMurdo+Station,+Antarctica!3b1!8m2!3d-77.8418779!4d166.6863449!3m4!1s0xaf773973ada5b34d:0xe241f2716549c551!8m2!3d-77.8418779!4d166.6863449,+Antarctica/@-77.8401191,166.6445298,7141m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0xaf773973ada5b34d:0xe241f2716549c551!2sMcMurdo+Station,+Antarctica!3b1!8m2!3d-77.8418779!4d166.6863449!3m4!1s0xaf773973ada5b34d:0xe241f2716549c551!8m2!3d-77.8418779!4d166.6863449
Climate - what you expect, Weather - what you get[[File:Evolution_of_Cenozoic.jpg|thumb|Evolution of Cenozoic]][[File:AnPrhstrc.jpg|thumb|left|Prehistoric Antarctica]]
Climate - what you expect, Weather - what you get[[File:Evolution_of_Cenozoic.jpg|thumb|Evolution of Cenozoic]][[File:AnPrhstrc.jpg|thumb|left|Prehistoric Antarctica]] [[File:Antarctica_city.jpg|thumb|left|Antarctic City]][[File:Antct2.jpg|thumb|Antarctic city]][[File:Anrsrchrs.jpg|thumb|Ancient Antarctic City]]
What is the climate like in Antarctica?
What is the climate like in Antarctica?

Revision as of 20:18, January 12, 2020

Weather - what is happening in a particular place at a particular time, usually over short periods, hours or days, e.g, rain, blizzard, sunny and calm. Climate - the average atmospheric conditions over long time periods, weeks, months, years.,+Antarctica/@-77.8401191,166.6445298,7141m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0xaf773973ada5b34d:0xe241f2716549c551!2sMcMurdo+Station,+Antarctica!3b1!8m2!3d-77.8418779!4d166.6863449!3m4!1s0xaf773973ada5b34d:0xe241f2716549c551!8m2!3d-77.8418779!4d166.6863449

Climate - what you expect, Weather - what you get
Evolution of Cenozoic

Evolution of Cenozoic


Prehistoric Antarctica
Antarctica city

Antarctic City


Antarctic city


Ancient Antarctic City

 What is the climate like in Antarctica?

Antarctica is a continent, bigger than Europe, North America or Australia, and as such it doesn't just have one climate zone, but several. As it is centered on the South Pole, the climates are all cold, but there are distinct zones:

Davis Antarctica - Eating Well

Davis Antarctica - Eating Well

Davis Station, Antarctica (Pink Sun) - January 16th 2018

Davis Station, Antarctica (Pink Sun) - January 16th 2018

Continental High Plateau:
Hidden under Antarctica

hidden under Antarctica

   Around the centre of the continent, high altitude with an average height of around 3,000m (10,000ft)
   Extreme cold year-round, approx. -20°C to -60°C monthly averages, large temperature range
   Clear skies common, constant light winds from the South
   Snowfall is rare, precipitation in the form of fine ice crystals, no more than a few centimeters a year

e.g. Vostok, 78°27'S, 106°52'E, average temperature -55.1°C, range 36°C Near the South Geomagnetic Pole and Southern Pole of Accessibility, deep in the Eastern Antarctic Ice sheet. Continental Low Plateau:

   Lower altitude West Antarctica and closer to the coast in East Antarctica, approx. 1000-1,500m (3500-5000ft)Continental low latitude
   Very cold year-round, approx. -12°C to -35°C monthly averages, smaller temperature range than higher altitude
   Clear skies, calm air, little precipitation common
   Weather more variable as depressions can bring blizzards with heavy snowfall and strong winds

e.g. Byrd, 80°01'S, 120°00'W, average temperature -27.9°C, range 22.3°C Inland on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, approx. 660km (410 miles) from the nearest coast. Continental High Latitude Coast:

   Coastal areas in the deep south 70°S +
   Cold winters and short cold summers, approx. -2°C to -30°C monthly averages
   Frequently changing weather, cloud and year-round snow is common
   Coasts often have fast-ice through the year which keeps temperatures low

e.g. McMurdo, 77°50'S, 166°30'E, average temperature -16.9°C, range 23.8°C On Ross Island in the Ross Sea very close to the continent in a deep southerly indentation. Continental Low Latitude Coast:

   Coastal areas approx. 65°S - 70°S
   Cold winters and short cold summers, approx. +2°C to -20°C monthly averages
   Temperatures are higher than many non-Antarctic continental areas even in winter, summer temperatures kept low due to ice and snow cover
   Precipitation can be heavy, winds often very strong - katabatic

e.g. Mawson, 67°36'S, 62°55E, average temperature -11.9°C, range 18.9°C On an isolated rocky outcrop on the coast in MacRobertson Land, west of Australia. Antarctic Peninsula:

   Fairly typical maritime climate, cold winter and warmer summers.
   The western side of the Peninsula is warmer than the eastern side.
   Cold winters and short cold summers, approx. +1°C to -15°C monthly averages
   Depressions come in from the west bringing cloud precipitation and winds, rain frequently falls in summer

e.g. Rothera, 67°34'S, 68°08'W, average temperature -5.3°C, range 13.6°C Due South of South America, separated by the Drake's Passage. Antarctic Islands:

   Maritime climate similar to the Antarctic Peninsula but milder
   Cold winters and short cold summers, approx. +1°C to -10°C monthly averages
   Winter temperatures brought down by sea-ice Low cloud common in summer with rain and sleet, heavy snow in winter

e.g. Orcadas, 60°44'S, 44°44'W, average temperature -4.3°C, range 11°C Islands at all points around the Antarctic Continent, more concentrated in the region of the Antarctic Peninsula. Sub-Antarctic Islands:

   Southern ocean islands above the northern limit of sea-ice
   Oceanic climate with cool summers and similar but cooler winters, approx. +4°C to -1.5°C monthly averages
   Depressions bring rain in summer, snow in winter and strong winds year-round

e.g. South Georgia, 54°18'S, 36°30'W, average temperature 1.8°C, range 6.9°C A relatively small number of oceanic islands distributed around the Antarctic Continent.

Temperature °C e.g. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Average Range Continental High Plateau Vostok -32.1 -44.3 -57.9 -64.7 -65.6 -65.2 -66.9 -67.6 -66.0 -57.1 -43.3 -32.1 -55.1 36.0 Continental Low Plateau Byrd -14.7 -19.8 -27.7 -29.7 -33.0 -34.1 -35.6 -36.7 -36.6 -30.2 -21.4 .14.4 -27.9 22.3 Continental High Latitude Coast McMurdo -2.9 -9.5 -18.2 -20.7 -21.7 -23.0 -25.7 -26.1 -24.6 -18.9 -9.7 -3.4 -16.9 23.8 Continental Low Latitude Coast` Mawson -0.7 -5.4 -11.2 -15.0 -16.8 -16.7 -18.0 -18.8 -18.2 -13.9 -6.2 -0.9 -11.9 18.9 Antarctic Peninsula Rothera 1.0 0.1 -1.6 -3.7 -6.8 -8.8 -12.6 -11.8 -9.4 -7.2 -3.3 0.2 -5.3 13.6 Antarctic Islands Orcadas 0.3 0.5 -0.6 -3.0 -6.7 -9.8 -10.5 -9.8 -6.4 -3.4 -2.1 -0.5 -4.3 11.0 Sub-Antarctic Islands South Georgia 4.7 5.4 4.6 2.5 0.2 -1.5 -1.5 -1.5 0.1 1.7 3.0 3.8 1.8 6.9

 What sorts of weather does Antarctica experience?


   Antarctica is the windiest continent on earth, the relative intensity as you get further south is told by the old sailors descriptions of:
       Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties (degrees of latitude)
   Storms are common in Antarctica and are frequently very energetic and dramatic.
   Between 50°S and 60°S the Westerly winds are driven by the pole/equator temperature gradient.
   Below 60°S winds are largely katabatic, this is a result of cold air forming over the pole and falling (as cold air is heavier). The pole is on a high plateau 3,000m (10,000ft), so the cold air falls down the slope getting faster as it goes. By the time it gets to the coast, the earth's rotation (Coriolis force) makes the wind westerly.

Antarctica geography


   Estimations of cloud cover has been problematic in Antarctica as the whole landscape is difficult to estimate and features that may seem a few km distant can actually be 50km or more, this makes cloud height estimations particularly difficult.
   Cloud cover averages may be 6/8 or 4/8, but the reality is that often cloud is either 0/8 or 8/8 i.e. no cloud or total cloud.
   Coastal areas are cloudier than continental areas and continental clouds are often made up entirely of ice crystals rather than the mix of ice and water vapour at the coast.


   Most precipitation falls as snow in Antarctica. Constant strong winds make measurement of snow fall very difficult as once it's fallen it then blows around an awful lot without any extra being added to any one position. It rarely comes down vertically making it hard to catch and measure it.
   Precipitation is often measured as "water equivalent" the amount of water that would be obtained if the snow was melted.
   The high plateau of East Antarctica is a desert with less than 50mm of water equivalent falling per year, this does not fall as snow but as tiny ice crystals in the air known as "diamond dust" from a perfectly clear sky and causes many optical phenomena such as solar pillars and haloes.
   The heaviest snow falls are on the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.
   Rain commonly falls in coastal regions in the summer.


   A combination of high winds and blowing snow, the snow may or may not be falling from the sky.
   When snow falls in low temperatures, or when ice crystals in the air settle, they are only very loosely bound together and so may be blown around for a long time, the result is that there is often blowing snow in Antarctica without there being very much precipitation.
   A blizzard may easily lead to white-out conditions when it is impossible to see surface features, the whole world is just a big white blur, this can be very dangerous as it is possible to walk over a cliff edge without even being aware it is there.
 How does Antarctica influence the climate and weather in the rest of the world?

The contribution to global weather is actually very small, Antarctic weather keeps itself to itself most of the time, there is a much greater influence from ocean currents than from atmospheric effects. This contributes to Antarctica being so cold, as the weather goes round and round the continent rather than spilling over to lower latitudes as the arctic weather systems do at the other end of the planet.

A greater influence is from the Thermohaline circulation. Thermo - heat, haline - salt/salinity. Very salty water is denser than less salty water and will sink beneath it, colder water likewise is denser than warmer water and sinks beneath it. Around Antarctica very low air temperatures cause surface waters to cool, become denser and sink beneath the rest of the ocean, this falls to the bottom of the sea and then starts to flow northwards (a similar thing happens in the Arctic flowing south). It is important as means that there are deep currents moving sea water around the oceans that are independent of winds. This moves huge amounts of heat around the planet largely independent of surface weather (although surface weather initiates it) these currents can take 100's of years to reach their destination.

 What is the circumpolar vortex?

Nacreous clouds are lit up by the sunrise at McMurdo, Antarctica

The "circumpolar vortex" is a strong Westerly circulation of winds that builds up during the winter months in the upper layers of the atmosphere (stratosphere) over Antarctica.

They cut off the central Antarctic weather from the rest of the world causing temperatures to fall and stay low. It also adds to the breakdown of the ozone layer by trapping clouds called "Polar Stratospheric Clouds" that cause ozone depletion by (also trapped) Chlorine containing compounds (such as chlorofluorocarbons - CFC's). These clouds may be called "Nacreous" as they look like the nacre of shells or mother-of-pearl. The circumpolar vortex breaks up in the spring and summer months, it maintains very low and stable temperatures in the winter.

 What is Infrared cooling?

A way of saying that hot things cool down! At night the warm earth gives out infrared rays that cool it down, it also happens during the day, but we don't notice it amongst the warmth from the sun, it only really causes a temperature drop at night. It's this that balances the heat coming in from the sun, so the planet doesn't just keep getting hotter and hotter.

Clouds and water vapor in the air reduce infrared cooling by trapping the rays in the atmosphere. Dry air and a lack of clouds allow the rays to escape, which is why deserts can get very cold at night while they are very hot during the day.

 What is Specific heat?

Water has a high specific heat capacity, water and ice around coasts influence local temperatures It's a measure of the energy needed to raise a standard amount of a substance by 1°C, usually given in Joules, could be calories.

e.g. the specific heat of water is 4.2 J/g °C - it takes 4.2J to raise 1g of water by 1°C.

The specific heat of ice is 2.1J, air 1J, iron 0.45J. The higher the number the greater the amount of energy the substance can store and the slower it will cool down.

Water has a high specific heat capacity, this means that it has a large influence on local weather, cooling or warming the surrounding land and keeping temperatures more even and constant. If you look at the climate zones map at the top of this page, you will see that coastal areas generally have smaller temperature ranges over the year than inland areas. This is partly due to the high specific heat capacity of the surrounding or nearby water.

 What are the characteristics of Pack ice? How does it affect the climate?

Pack ice is floating ice that is frozen sea-water, it may have formed in situ, or may have floated from many hundreds or thousands of miles away.It can be open-pack or closed-pack, depending on how pushed together the pieces are. It can last a year or less, or may be old ice that has survived 2 or 3 years before being broken up and drifting off. It forms each year from the sea and melts back into the sea so it does not contribute to sea-level changes, but has a major impact in reflecting light and heat from the sun.

More pack ice makes it colder, less makes it warmer.

Antarctica does not belong to any one country or even to a group of countries (though there are "pending" historical claims to its territory). Its lands (and ice and snow) have no nationality in the way that we understand it in the rest of the world.

  What sort of government does Antarctica have?

There is no "Government of Antarctica" in the way that we understand it in the rest of the world. This is largely as there are no indigenous peoples and no-one lives there permanently, the only habitations are scientific stations that people visit for short time periods, usually from a couple of months to just over a year.
The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the two polar ice caps of the Earth. It covers about 98% of the Antarctic continent and is the largest single mass of ice on Earth. It covers an area of almost 14 million square kilometres (5.4 million square miles) and contains 26.5 million cubic kilometres (6,400,000 cubic miles) of ice.[2] A cubic kilometer of ice weighs approximately one metric gigaton, meaning that the ice sheet weighs 26,500,000 gigatons. Approximately 61 percent of all fresh water on the Earth is held in the Antarctic ice sheet, an amount equivalent to about 58 m of sea-level rise.[3] In East Antarctica, the ice sheet rests on a major land mass, while in West Antarctica the bed can extend to more than 2,500 m below sea level.

In contrast to the melting of the Arctic sea ice, sea ice around Antarctica has been expanding as of 2013.[4] Satellite measurements by NASA indicate a still increasing sheet thickness above the continent, outweighing the losses at the edge.[5] The reasons for this are not fully understood, but suggestions include the climatic effects on ocean and atmospheric circulation of the ozone hole,[4] and/or cooler ocean surface temperatures as the warming deep waters melt the ice shelves.[6] Contents

   1 History
   2 Changes since the late twentieth century
       2.1 Temperature
       2.2 Sea ice and land ice
       2.3 Recent Observations
   3 See also
   4 References
   5 External links


The icing of Antarctica began in the middle Eocene about 45.5 million years ago[7] and escalated during the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event about 34 million years ago. CO2 levels were then about 760 ppm[8] and had been decreasing from earlier levels in the thousands of ppm. Carbon dioxide decrease, with a tipping point of 600 ppm, was the primary agent forcing Antarctic glaciation.[9] The glaciation was favored by an interval when the Earth's orbit favored cool summers but oxygen isotope ratio cycle marker changes were too large to be explained by Antarctic ice-sheet growth alone indicating an ice age of some size.[10] The opening of the Drake Passage may have played a role as well[11] though models of the changes suggest declining CO2 levels to have been more important.[12]

The Western Antarctic ice sheet declined somewhat during the warm early Pliocene epoch, approximately 5 to 3 million years ago; during this time the Ross Sea opened up.[13] But there was no significant decline in the land-based Eastern Antarctic ice sheet.[14] Changes since the late twentieth century Temperature

According to a 2009 study, the continent-wide average surface temperature trend of Antarctica is positive and significant at >0.05 °C/decade since 1957.[15][16][17][18] West Antarctica has warmed by more than 0.1 °C/decade in the last 50 years, and this warming is strongest in winter and spring. Although this is partly offset by fall cooling in East Antarctica, this effect is restricted to the 1980s and 1990s.[15][16][17] Sea ice and land ice Visualization of NASA's mission Operation IceBridge dataset BEDMAP2, obtained with laser and ice-penetrating radar, collecting surface height, bedrock topography and ice thickness. The bedrock topography of Antarctica, critical to understand dynamic motion of the continental ice sheets. Main article: Antarctic sea ice

Ice enters the sheet through precipitation as snow. This snow is then compacted to form glacier ice which moves under gravity towards the coast. Most of it is carried to the coast by fast moving ice streams. The ice then passes into the ocean, often forming vast floating ice shelves. These shelves then melt or calve off to give icebergs that eventually melt.

If the transfer of the ice from the land to the sea is balanced by snow falling back on the land then there will be no net contribution to global sea levels. The general trend shows that a warming climate in the southern hemisphere would transport more moisture to Antarctica, causing the interior ice sheets to grow, while calving events along the coast will increase, causing these areas to shrink. A 2006 paper derived from satellite data, measuring changes in the gravity of the ice mass, suggests that the total amount of ice in Antarctica has begun decreasing in the past few years.[19] A 2008 study compared the ice leaving the ice sheet, by measuring the ice velocity and thickness along the coast, to the amount of snow accumulation over the continent. This found that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet was in balance but the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was losing mass. This was largely due to acceleration of ice streams such as Pine Island Glacier. These results agree closely with the gravity changes.[20][21] An estimate published in November 2012 and based on the GRACE data as well as on an improved glacial isostatic adjustment model discussed systematic uncertainty in the estimates, and by studying 26 separate regions, estimated an average yearly mass loss of 69 ± 18 Gt/y from 2002 to 2010 (a sea-level rise of 0.16 ± 0.043 mm/y). The mass loss was geographically uneven, mainly occurring along the Amundsen Sea coast, while the West Antarctic Ice Sheet mass was roughly constant and the East Antarctic Ice Sheet gained in mass.[22]

Antarctic sea ice anomalies have roughly followed the pattern of warming, with the greatest declines occurring off the coast of West Antarctica. East Antarctica sea ice has been increasing since 1978, though not at a statistically significant rate. The atmospheric warming has been directly linked to the mass losses in West Antarctica of the first decade of the twenty-first century. This mass loss is more likely to be due to increased melting of the ice shelves because of changes in ocean circulation patterns (which themselves may be linked to atmospheric circulation changes that may also explain the warming trends in West Antarctica). Melting of the ice shelves in turn causes the ice streams to speed up.[23] The melting and disappearance of the floating ice shelves will only have a small effect on sea level, which is due to salinity differences.[24][25][26] The most important consequence of their increased melting is the speed up of the ice streams on land which are buttressed by these ice shelves. Recent Observations

A group of scientists with the University of California updated previous results ranging from 1979 to 2017, which improved time series for more accurate results. Their article, published January 2019, covered four decades of information in Antarctica, revealing the total mass loss which increased gradually per decade.

40 ± 9 Gt/y from 1979 to 1990, 50 ± 14 Gt/y from 1989 to 2000, 166 ±18 Gt/y from 1999 to 2009 and finally 252 ±26 Gt/y from 2009 to 2017. The majority of mass loss was in the Amundsen Sea sector, which experienced loss as high as 159 ±8 Gt/y. There are areas which have not experienced much loss at all, such as East Ross ice shelf.

This improved study revealed an acceleration of near 280% over the span of four decades. The study questions previous hypotheses, such as the belief that the heavy melt began in the 1940s to 1970s, suggesting that more recent anthropogenic actions have caused accelerated melt. [27]

A little history: The systematic exploration (i.e. finding out all the places and not just the more immediately interesting ones such as the South Pole, islands, mountains and other features) and scientific investigation of Antarctica properly began with the International Geophysical Year (IGY) from July 1st 1957 to December 31st 1958. 35 scientific stations were established on the Antarctic continent with another 15 on sub Antarctic islands by 12 different nations.


Antarctica and fault lines

It was an unprecedented blip out of nowhere in 1982. For the first time, scientists confirmed the first earthquake in Antarctica – but it wouldn't be the last.

As the decades passed, researchers detected eight more seismic events in East Antarctica. And then all hell seemingly broke loose, with sensors picking up 27 earthquakes in 2009 alone, tripling the total number of recorded events ever in just a single year.

But it wasn't a planetary catastrophe or divine wrath that lay behind the ground shaking like nothing known before – merely the scientific method in action.

"Ultimately, the lack of recorded seismicity wasn't due to a lack of events but a lack of instruments close enough to record the events," explains seismologist Amanda Lough from Drexel University.

While Antarctica's unusual silence in terms of seismic activity had been the subject of numerous scientific hypotheses, Lough showed it wasn't a quirk of tectonics keeping the endless white landscape still – just a lack of data.

044 antarctica seismic activity earthquakes 3One of the seismic sensors (Drexel University)

In 2007 she began the epic multi-year task of installing the GAMSEIS/AGAP array of broadband seismographs in East Antarctica, giving scientists an unprecedented glimpse at the region's seismic activity.

Like the 2009 data demonstrate, Antarctica experiences its share of earthquakes and seismic movement just like other parts of the globe, only now we have the recorded observations to prove it.

"It's no longer an anomaly," she told Quartz, noting that the 2009 results took even the research team back, leading to "quite a bit of checking to make sure that they were real events and that we had located them accurately."

In the team's new study on the earthquakes detected, the researchers explain that East Antarctica is a craton – a large, stable piece of rock on the Earth's crust underlying continents.

While some had reasoned seismic activity in Antarctica might be suppressed by the immense weight of the continental ice sheet, the new findings show that's not the case.

Most of the 27 earthquakes in 2009 were the result of rifts – regions in the crust where the rock is being torn apart.

044 antarctica seismic activity earthquakes 3Calibrating one of the sensors (Drexel University)

"The rifts provide zones of weakness that enable faulting to occur more easily, and it may be that the situation here is such that activity is occurring preferentially along these areas of pre-existing weakness," Lough explains in a press release, although she notes the present findings are based on only one year of data, so more research needs to be done to get the full picture.

But it just goes to show how blind scientists – and by extension, all of us – really are without the right tools to record and detect physical phenomena.

And while the East Antarctica blindspot seems amazing in hindsight, the truth is there's still a lot we're not recording sufficiently in terms of global seismic activity.

"Antarctica is the least-instrumented continent, but other areas of the globe also lack sufficient instrumentation," Lough says.

"The ocean covers 71 percent of the planet, but it is expensive and very difficult to get instruments there. We need to think about improving coverage and then improving the density of it."

[1][2]---- The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is an ocean current that flows clockwise from west to east around Antarctica. An alternative name for the ACC is the West Wind Drift. The ACC is the dominant circulation feature of the Southern Ocean and has a mean transport estimated at 100-150 Sverdrups (Sv, million m³/s),[1] or possibly even higher,[2] making it the largest ocean current. The current is circumpolar due to the lack of any landmass connecting with Antarctica and this keeps warm ocean waters away from Antarctica, enabling that continent to maintain its huge ice sheet.

Associated with the Circumpolar Current is the Antarctic Convergence, where the cold Antarctic waters meet the warmer waters of the subantarctic, creating a zone of upwelling nutrients. These nurture high levels of phytoplankton with associated copepods and krill, and resultant foodchains supporting fish, whales, seals, penguins, albatrosses, and a wealth of other species.

The ACC has been known to sailors for centuries; it greatly speeds up any travel from west to east, but makes sailing extremely difficult from east to west, although this is mostly due to the prevailing westerly winds. Jack London's story "Make Westing" and the circumstances preceding the mutiny on the Bounty poignantly illustrate the difficulty it caused for mariners seeking to round Cape Horn westbound on the clipper ship route from New York to California.[3] The eastbound clipper route, which is the fastest sailing route around the world, follows the ACC around three continental capes – Cape Agulhas (Africa), South East Cape (Australia), and Cape Horn (South America).

The current creates the Ross and Weddell gyres.
Isotopes, Ice Cores

Antarctica ice layers


   1 Structure
       1.1 Fronts
   2 Dynamics
   3 Formation
   4 Phytoplankton
   5 Studies
   6 References
       6.1 Notes
       6.2 Sources

Structure The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the strongest current system in the world oceans and the only ocean current linking all major oceans: the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Seawater density fronts after Orsi, Whitworth & Nowlin 1995.

The ACC connects the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, and serves as a principal pathway of exchange among them. The current is strongly constrained by landform and bathymetric features. To trace it starting arbitrarily at South America, it flows through the Drake Passage between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula and then is split by the Scotia Arc to the east, with a shallow warm branch flowing to the north in the Falkland Current and a deeper branch passing through the Arc more to the east before also turning to the north. Passing through the Indian Ocean, the current first retroflects the Agulhas Current to form the Agulhas Return Current before it is split by the Kerguelen Plateau, and then moving northward again. Deflection is also seen as it passes over the mid-ocean ridge in the Southeast Pacific. Fronts

The current is accompanied by three fronts: the Subantarctic front (SAF), the Polar front (PF), and the Southern ACC front (SACC).[4] Furthermore, the waters of the Southern Ocean are separated from the warmer and saltier subtropical waters by the subtropical front (STF).[5]

The northern boundary of the ACC is defined by the northern edge of the SAF, this being the most northerly water to pass through Drake Passage and therefore be circumpolar. Much of the ACC transport is carried in this front, which is defined as the latitude at which a subsurface salinity minimum or a thick layer of unstratified Subantarctic mode water first appears, allowed by temperature dominating density stratification. Still further south lies the PF, which is marked by a transition to very cold, relatively fresh, Antarctic Surface Water at the surface. Here a temperature minimum is allowed by salinity dominating density stratification, due to the lower temperatures. Farther south still is the SACC, which is determined as the southernmost extent of Circumpolar Deep Water (temperature of about 2 °C at 400 m). This water mass flows along the shelfbreak of the western Antarctic Peninsula and thus marks the most southerly water flowing through Drake Passage and therefore circumpolar. The bulk of the transport is carried in the middle two fronts.

The total transport of the ACC at Drake Passage is estimated to be around 135 Sv, or about 135 times the transport of all the world's rivers combined. There is a relatively small addition of flow in the Indian Ocean, with the transport south of Tasmania reaching around 147 Sv, at which point the current is probably the largest on the planet. Dynamics

The circumpolar current is driven by the strong westerly winds in the latitudes of the Southern Ocean.

In latitudes where there are continents, winds blowing on light surface water can simply pile up light water against these continents. But in the Southern Ocean, the momentum imparted to the surface waters cannot be offset in this way. There are different theories on how the Circumpolar Current balances the momentum imparted by the winds. The increasing eastward momentum imparted by the winds causes water parcels to drift outward from the axis of the Earth's rotation (in other words, northward) as a result of the Coriolis force. This northward Ekman transport is balanced by a southward, pressure-driven flow below the depths of the major ridge systems. Some theories connect these flows directly, implying that there is significant upwelling of dense deep waters within the Southern Ocean, transformation of these waters into light surface waters, and a transformation of waters in the opposite direction to the north. Such theories link the magnitude of the Circumpolar Current with the global thermohaline circulation, particularly the properties of the North Atlantic.

Alternatively, ocean eddies, the oceanic equivalent of atmospheric storms, or the large-scale meanders of the Circumpolar Current may directly transport momentum downward in the water column. This is because such flows can produce a net southward flow in the troughs and a net northward flow over the ridges without requiring any transformation of density. In practice both the thermohaline and the eddy/meander mechanisms are likely to be important.

The current flows at a rate of about 4 km/h (2.5 mph) over the Macquarie Ridge south of New Zealand.[6] The ACC varies with time. Evidence of this is the Antarctic Circumpolar Wave, a periodic oscillation that affects the climate of much of the southern hemisphere.[7] There is also the Antarctic oscillation, which involves changes in the location and strength of Antarctic winds. Trends in the Antarctic Oscillation have been hypothesized to account for an increase in the transport of the Circumpolar Current over the past two decades. Formation

Published estimates of the onset of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current vary, but it is commonly considered to have started at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. The isolation of Antarctica and formation of the ACC occurred with the openings of the Tasmanian Seaway and the Drake Passage. The Tasmanian Seaway separates East Antarctica and Australia, and is reported to have opened to water circulation 33.5 Ma.[8] The timing of the opening of the Drake Passage, between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula, is more disputed; tectonic and sediment evidence show that it could have been open as early as pre 34 Ma,[9] estimates of the opening of the Drake passage are between 20 and 40 Ma.[10] The isolation of Antarctica by the current is credited by many researchers with causing the glaciation of Antarctica and global cooling in the Eocene epoch. Oceanic models have shown that the opening of these two passages limited polar heat convergence and caused a cooling of sea surface temperatures by several degrees; other models have shown that CO2 levels also played a significant role in the glaciation of Antarctica.[10][11] Phytoplankton The Falkland Current transports nutrient-rich cold waters from the ACC north toward the Brazil–Malvinas Confluence. Phytoplankton chlorophyll concentration are shown in blue (lower concentrations) and yellow (higher concentrations).

Antarctic sea ice cycles seasonally, in February–March the amount of sea ice is lowest, and in August–September the sea ice is at its greatest extent.[12] Ice levels have been monitored by satellite since 1973. Upwelling of deep water under the sea ice brings substantial amounts of nutrients. As the ice melts, the melt water provides stability and the critical depth is well below the mixing depth, which allows for a positive net primary production.[13] As the sea ice recedes epontic algae dominate the first phase of the bloom, and a strong bloom dominate by diatoms follows the ice melt south.[13]

Another phytoplankton bloom occurs more to the north near the antarctic convergence, here nutrients are present from thermohaline circulation. Phytoplankton blooms are dominated by diatoms and grazed by copepods in the open ocean, and by krill closer to the continent. Diatom production continues through the summer, and populations of krill are sustained, bringing large numbers of cetaceans, cephalopods, seals, birds, and fish to the area.[13]

Phytoplankton blooms are believed to be limited by irradiance in the austral (southern hemisphere) spring, and by biologically available iron in the summer.[14] Much of the biology in the area occurs along the major fronts of the current, the Subtropical, Subantarctic, and the Antarctic Polar fronts, these are areas associated with well defined temperature changes.[15] Size and distribution of phytoplankton are also related to fronts. Microphytoplankton (>20μm) are found at fronts and at sea ice boundaries, while nanophytoplankton (<20μm) are found between fronts.[16]

Studies of phytoplankton stocks in the southern sea have shown that the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is dominated by diatoms, while the Weddell Sea has abundant coccolithophorids and silicoflagellates. Surveys of the SW Indian Ocean have shown phytoplankton group variation based on their location relative to the Polar Front, with diatoms dominating South of the front, and dinoflagellates and flagellates in higher populations North of the front.[16]

Some research has been conducted on Antarctic phytoplankton as a carbon sink. Areas of open water left from ice melt are good areas for phytoplankton blooms. The phytoplankton takes carbon from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. As the blooms die and sink, the carbon can be stored in sediments for thousands of years. This natural carbon sink is estimated to remove 3.5 million tonnes from the ocean each year. 3.5 million tonnes of carbon taken from the ocean and atmosphere is equivalent to 12.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.[17] Studies

An expedition in May 2008 by 19 scientists[18] studied the geology and biology of eight Macquarie Ridge sea mounts, as well as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current to investigate the effects of climate change of the Southern Ocean. The circumpolar current merges the waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans and carries up to 150 times the volume of water flowing in all of the world's rivers. The study found that any damage on the cold-water corals nourished by the current will have a long-lasting effect.[6] After studying the circumpolar current it is clear that it strongly influences regional and global climate as well as underwater biodiversity.[19] The thickness of ice in Antarctica is an extremely important question as it is the thickness of ice that gives a unique shape to Antarctica and it is due to this shape that Antarctica has a unique ice-air-ocean-radiation system on earth.

Basically, the thickness of ice is such that it gives Antarctica, a dome shape. This means, the thickness of ice is maximum in the interior of Antarctica and it decreases as we move towards the periphery. The periphery is surrounded by oceans all around. In the interior, the thickness is about 4 km and the distance from the periphery is about 2000 km. Thus, there is a slope of 2/1000.
Lake Vostok

Antarctica layers

For part of the summer in parts of Antarctica, the ice melts into a swampy, slushy stew and refreezes as the temperatures rise and fall. As it melts, it generates hundreds of thousands of tiny little "icequakes."

Now, scientists have captured the daily pattern of these miniature tremors using the same kind of seismographs used to detect earthquakes. They find that the icequakes are caused by the sudden snap of frozen films of ice covering pools of slush.

"In these ponds, there's often a layer of ice on top of melted water below, like you see with a lake that's only frozen on top," University of Chicago glaciologist Douglas MacAyeal said in a statement. "As the temperature cools at night, the ice on the top contracts, and the water below expands as it undergoes freezing. This warps the top lid, until it finally breaks with a snap."

Breaking up

MacAyeal and his team were interested in the daily rhythms of the ice because little is known about the mechanics of a breakup of a large ice sheet. Such breakups have occurred in Antarctica multiple times over the past several decades. The Larsen C ice shelf calved an enormous iceberg into the Weddell Sea in 2017. The nearby Larsen B shelf collapsed unexpectedly in 2002. When floating ice sheets collapse, they don't directly contribute to sea-level rise, because they were already in a marine environment. But they do allow the landbound glaciers behind the ice sheets to flow faster, dumping meltwater into the sea. [In Photos: Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf Through Time]

The researchers were also interested in testing seismometers as a way to monitor melting ice. They deployed two near McMurdo Station, at the edge of the McMurdo Ice Shelf. One seismometer station was positioned at a dry location where the surface was covered with firn — previous years' snow slowly hardening and compacting into glacial ice. The other was put at a wet, boggy location where the ice was rotten and partially melted. At the wet location, the surface was often coated with a thin layer of ice over pools of slush and meltwater big enough to swallow an adult.

The instruments recorded tremors at these two stations between November 2016 and January 2017.

Snaps and pops

The patterns at the two spots couldn't have been any more different. The dry station was seismically peaceful. The only tremors detected there were linked to vehicle or ship traffic around McMurdo Station.

At the wet station, though, the seismographs picked up hundreds of thousands of tiny earthquakes, sometimes thousands in one night. These quakes were generally below the 2.5 magnitude at which tremors become noticeable to humans, though people in Antarctica sometimes hear the cracking of the ice, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Strangely, the earthquakes followed a daily pattern. They would increase in frequency for a couple of hours each evening.

Scientists, including University of Chicago's Becky Goodsell, used seismometers to detect hundreds of thousands of tiny icequakes that quiver through Antarctic ice. Scientists, including University of Chicago's Becky Goodsell, used seismometers to detect hundreds of thousands of tiny icequakes that quiver through Antarctic ice. Credit: Alison Banwell

The researchers thought the daily quake peaks might have to do with the tides, but one discrepancy ruled out that notion. On Nov. 30, 2016, the spike in icequakes didn't happen. When the researchers tracked daily temperature over the study time frame, they found that the quake peaks corresponded with periods of dropping mercury. On Nov. 30, it just so happened that the temperature warmed instead of chilled over the course of the evening.

What's likely happening, MacAyeal said, is that as the air gets colder, the slushy, melty ponds below the thin layer of surface ice start to freeze. As they freeze, they expand, putting pressure on the surface ice. Finally, the surface ice snaps like a potato chip, sending tiny, undetectable-to-humans tremors out along the surface.

These findings on a small scale are intriguing, MacAyeal said, because more icebergs calve off ice shelves during cold weather compared with warmer weather. Due to this ice slope, the temperature of air in the interior is always about 40 degree Celsius lower than the periphery (lapse rate 10 degree/km), so the interior air is cooler than the air at the periphery. Also, the Antarctic air is always standing on icy slopes and due to the radiative cooling of the icy surfaces (in Antarctica, atmosphere is absolutely clean, visibility is >300 km), the air in contact with the ice surfaces is always cooler and heavier than the air aloft. Since it stands on a slope, this heavier air-mass is pulled by the gravity to move over the icy slopes and by the time the air mass comes at the periphery, its speed becomes 300 km/hr. These gravity driven winds are called Katabatic Winds, they are always directed from the interior of Antarctica towards the periphery. The katabatic winds erode loose snow and cover exposed areas or any foreign material or structure so as to maintain surface characteristics.

These high speed, relatively dry air pushes up the relatively warm, moist air, leading to the formation of severe cyclones, which encircle the Antarctic continent from west to east. The cyclones move towards the interior and cause snowfall. This completes the whole cycle of loss of ice from the interior of the continent and replenishment by the cyclones. This interactive system has led to the development of unique flora and fauna of Antarctica and a unique ocean features.

If we imagine that the Antarctic ice is flat, it means collapse of Antarctica. I am inserting two published photographs to explain the things in a better way. The second one is the most simplified diagram showing the katabatic flow direction over Antarctica. The current helps pre

The IGY is was the launch event for the way that Antarctica is today and for the way that Antarctica will be in the short to medium term at least if not beyond this. The IGY was such a success that the benefits of international co-operation seemed well worth continuing. The IGY was followed by a year of International Geophysical Cooperation when the 12 nations (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, USA and the USSR) decided to continue their research.

Representatives of the 12 nations met in Washington D.C. in 1959 to draft and sign the Antarctic Treaty - (summary here). This agreement dedicated the entire continent to peaceful scientific investigation. It came into effect in 1961 and all territorial claims were suspended. In 1991, 24 nations approved a protocol (addition) to the treaty that would ban oil and other mineral exploration for at least 50 years, this came into force in 1998 and stands until 2048, at which point it will be renegotiated, to change or remain as decided at the time. It is possible for the treaty to be changed before 2048, though it would take the unanimous agreement of all of the consultative parties to do so, as of 2015 there are 29 nations that are consultative parties.

There are now 52 countries that have signed the Antarctic Treaty - which represent about 80% of the world's population.

The key objectives of the Antarctic Treaty are:

  • To keep Antarctica demilitarized, to establish it as a nuclear-free zone, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only.
  • To promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica.
  • To set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.

The result is that Antarctica is one of the few places in the world which has never been affected by war, where the environment is fully protected and where the priority is scientific research. The Antarctic Treaty has ensured that this has continued and will continue for the foreseeable future.

The Treaty covers the areas south of 60°S latitude, extending to the South Pole.

In general for individuals at Antarctic bases, the national laws of their home country applies to them personally.

The secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty

Signatories to the Antarctic Treaty - Consulting with territorial claims. Consulting (reserved right for territorial claim). Consulting, Acceding member without voting right. Non-signatory.

  How is Antarctica governed?

The governance of Antarctica is carried out by the Consultative Nations of the Antarctic Treaty during an annual "Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting".

These are the Countries that play an active role in Antarctica by being engaged in substantial scientific research activity. Only the consultative parties have voting rights and can make decisions about Antarctica, there are 29 Consultative Nations.

They meet: "for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting together on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulating and considering and recommending to their Governments measures in furtherance of the principles and objectives of the Treaty" (Art. IX).

Consultative nations, in order of date of becoming a consultative party: United Kingdom, South Africa, Belgium, Japan, United States of America, Norway, France, New Zealand, Russia, Poland, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Netherlands, German Democratic Republic, Brazil, Bulgaria, Germany, Federal Republic of, Uruguay, Italy, Peru, Spain, China, People's Republic of, India, Sweden, Finland, Korea, Republic of Ecuador, Ukraine.

These meetings take place in one of these countries in turn, usually for around 10 working days between May and July of each year. In recent years, these have been:

13 May 2018 - 18 Jun 2018 - Buenos Aires, Argentina 23 May 2017 - 01 Jun 2017 - Beijing, China 23 May 2016 - 01 Jun 2016 - Santiago, Chile 01 Jun 2015 - 10 Jun 2015 - Sofia, Bulgaria 28 Apr 2014 - 07 May 2014 - Brasilia, Brazil
20 May 2013 - 29 May 2013 - Brussels, Belgium 11 Jun 2012 - 20 Jun 2012 - Hobart, Australia 20 Jun 2011 - 01 Jul 2011 - Buenos Aires, Argentina 03 May 2010 - 14 May 2010 - Punta del Este, Uruguay

There may also be Special Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings and Meetings of Experts to address specific subjects, the most recent of these being "Meetings of Experts":

Climate Change 06 Apr 2010 - 09 Apr 2010 Svolvaer, Norway
Ship-borne Tourism 09 Dec 2009 - 11 Dec 2009 Wellington, New Zealand
Tourism 22 Mar 2004 - 25 Mar 2004 Tromso, Norway
Shipping 17 Apr 2000 - 19 Apr 2000 London, UK

Antarctica landforms

Proposals are not voted on, attempts are made to reach a consensus.

  So it all works really well then?

Yes it does.

However..... so far there have not really been any really contentious issues to discuss.

There are minerals, coal and almost certainly oil in Antarctica and under the surrounding seas. At the moment it is not economically viable to attempt to recover them. In the future however as technology improves and especially if global warming leads to deglacierisation and reduced sea-ice so exposing more areas and improving access, it will almost certainly become commercially viable to recover at least some of these natural resources.

At this point there will be some much more contentious issues to be addressed:

  • Should it be allowed to drill for oil in Antarctic waters, or exploit other mineral wealth?

  • If it is, what environmental safeguards should there be?

  • Who do the oil / minerals belong to? (especially tricky one that)

  • Is the Antarctic Treaty sufficient to continue to govern and make decisions in these circumstances?

  • Will the countries who want the resources respect the Antarctic Treaty, or try to undermine it to get what they want for themselves?

All difficult stuff to deal with. On the one hand the Antarctic Treaty has lasted for so long and has worked very well, so it sets a precedent for how to proceed. On the other hand countries may simply choose to ignore it for their own purposes. A gentleman's agreement may be fine when the stakes are low, but may disappear when they stakes are increased.

The agreement not to mine for minerals or drill for oil ends in 2048.

The Antarctic Peninsula is the most likely area to be exploited as it is the most accessible place and has been affected by warming more than any other region.

The Antarctic Parliament in session

  What territorial claims are there in Antarctica?

There are seven nations that have claimed territory in Antarctica:

Argentina, Australia, Britain, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway

These claims are based on discovery and effective occupation of the claimed area, they are legal according to the laws* of each of these nations. Three of these countries, the United Kingdom, Chile and Argentina, have overlapping claims in the region of the Antarctic Peninsula. There is a section of Marie Byrd Land that is unclaimed. The Norwegian claim does not have defined northerly or southerly limits.

No new claims have been made since the Antarctic Treaty came into force in 1961, all such claims have been suspended under the Antarctic Treaty. The USA and Russia have reserved the right to make territorial claims in the future but do not recognise the claims of others. Recognition of the respective claims by other countries is on an individual basis by each country and s outside of the Antarctic Treaty.

  • An example of this is that while I was working in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey, I no longer paid UK income tax, but British Antarctic Territory (BAT) tax, which was less - hurrah!.

A historical explanation of claims

  Could I just go to Antarctica as long as I agreed to the Antarctic Treaty?

If you are a national of any of the Antarctic Treaty States, you need to get authorization from your government to visit Antarctica in the form of a permit.

Failure to do so may be a criminal offence with punishment of a fine and/or prison sentence if caught, the penalties vary according to the country of origin. If your country is not an Antarctic Treaty state, you may face the same penalties according to the laws of the country whose jurisdiction applies in the part of Antarctic visited.

If you wish to visit Antarctica as part of an organized tour, this aspect will almost always be dealt with by the tour operator who will have secured a permit or authorization for the whole trip, rather than by the individual.

Here is an example of the requirements for British visitors, other nationalities will have to refer to their own authorities who will have similar requirements.

The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), 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 currently has 54 parties.[2] The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and 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.[3]

The main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959, and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961.[4] The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58. The twelve countries that had significant interests in Antarctica at the time were: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[1] These countries had established over 55 Antarctic stations for the IGY. The treaty was a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific co-operation that had been achieved "on the ice".


Articles of the Antarctic Treaty

  • Article I

1. 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 II

Freedom 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 III

1. 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:

(a) information regarding plans for scientific programs in Antarctica shall be exchanged to permit maximum economy and efficiency of operations;

(b) scientific personnel shall be exchanged in Antarctica between expeditions and stations;

(c) scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available.

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 IV

1. Nothing contained in the present treaty shall be interpreted as:

(a) a renunciation by any Contracting Party of previously asserted rights of or claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica;

(b) a renunciation or diminution by any Contracting Party of any basis of claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica which it may have whether as a result of its activities or those of its nationals in Antarctica, or otherwise;

(c) prejudicing the position of any Contracting Party as regards its recognition or non-recognition of any other States right of or claim or basis of claim 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 V

1. 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 VI

The 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 VII

1. 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 which designate them. The names of observers shall be communicated to every other Contracting Party having the right to designate observers, and 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, installations and equipment within those areas, and 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 out at any time over any or all areas of Antarctica by any of the Contracting Parties having the right to designate observers.

5. Each Contracting Party shall, at the time when the present treaty enters into force for it, inform the other Contracting Parties, and thereafter shall give them notice in advance, of

(a) all expeditions to and within Antarctica, on the part of its ships or nationals, and all expeditions to Antarctica organized in or proceeding from its territory;

(b) all stations in Antarctica occupied by its nationals; and

(c) any military personnel or equipment intended to be introduced by it into Antarctica subject to the conditions prescribed in paragraph 2 of Article I of the present treaty.

  • Article VIII

1. In order to facilitate the exercise of their functions under the present treaty, and without prejudice to the respective positions of the Contracting Parties relating to jurisdiction over all other persons in Antarctica, observers designated under paragraph 1 of Article VII and scientific personnel exchanged under subparagraph 1(b) of Article III of the treaty, and members of the staffs accompanying any such persons, shall be subject only to the jurisdiction of the Contracting Party of which they are nationals in respect of all acts or omissions occurring while they are in Antarctica for the purpose of exercising their functions.

2. Without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, and pending the adoption of measures in pursuance of subparagraph 1(e) of Article IX, the Contracting Parties concerned in any case of dispute with regard to the exercise of jurisdiction in Antarctica shall immediately consult together with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable solution.

  • Article IX

1. Representatives of the Contracting Parties named in the preamble to the present treaty shall meet at the City of Canberra within two months after the date of entry into force of the treaty, and thereafter at suitable intervals and places, for the purpose of exchanging information, consulting together on matters of common interest pertaining to Antarctica, and formulating and considering, and recommending to their Governments, measures in furtherance of the principles and objectives of the treaty, including measures regarding:

(a) use of Antarctica for peaceful purposes only;

(b) facilitation of scientific research in Antarctica;

(c) facilitation of international scientific cooperation in Antarctica;

(d) facilitation of the exercise of the rights of inspection provided for in Article VII of the treaty;

(e) questions relating to the exercise of jurisdiction in Antarctica;

(f) preservation and conservation of living resources in Antarctica.

2. Each Contracting Party which has become a party to the present treaty by accession under Article XIII shall be entitled to appoint representatives to participate in the meetings referred to in paragraph 1 of the present Article, during such time as that Contracting Party demonstrates its interest in Antarctica by conducting substantial scientific research activity there, such as the establishment of a scientific station or the despatch of a scientific expedition.

3. Reports from the observers referred to in Article VII of the present treaty shall be transmitted to the representatives of the Contracting Parties participating in the meetings referred to in paragraph 1 of the present Article.

4. The measures referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article shall become effective when approved by all the Contracting Parties whose representatives were entitled to participate in the meetings held to consider those measures.

5. Any or all of the rights established in the present treaty may be exercised from the date of entry into force of the treaty whether or not any measures facilitating the exercise of such rights have been proposed, considered or approved as provided in this Article.

  • Article X

Each of the Contracting Parties undertakes to exert appropriate efforts, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, to the end that no one engages in any activity in Antarctica contrary to the principles or purposes of the present treaty.

  • Article XI

1. If any dispute arises between two or more of the Contracting Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the present treaty, those Contracting Parties shall consult among themselves with a view to having the dispute resolved by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement or other peaceful means of their own choice.

2. Any dispute of this character not so resolved shall, with the consent, in each case, of all parties to the dispute, be referred to the International Court of Justice for settlement; but failure to reach agreement on reference to the International Court shall not absolve parties to the dispute from the responsibility of continuing to seek to resolve it by any of the various peaceful means referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article.

  • Articles XII, XIII, XIV – Deal with upholding, interpreting, and amending the treaty among involved nations.[5]

The main objective of the ATS is to ensure in the interests of all humankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord. Pursuant to Article 1, the treaty forbids any measures of a military nature, but not the presence of military personnel or equipment for the purposes of scientific research.

Other agreements

[3] Disposal of waste by simply dumping it at the shoreline such as here at the Russian Bellingshausen Station base on King George Island in 1992 is no longer permitted by the Protocol on Environmental ProtectionOther agreements — some 200 recommendations adopted at treaty consultative meetings and ratified by governments — include:

Bilateral treaties

  • Exchange of Notes constituting an Agreement between the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Government of the French Republic, regarding Aerial Navigation in the Antarctic (Paris, 25 October 1938)[7]
  • Treaty Between the Government of Australia and the Government of the French Republic on Cooperation in the Maritime Areas Adjacent to the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF), Heard Island and the McDonald Islands (Canberra, 24 November 2003)[8]
  • Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement of Fisheries Laws between the Government of Australia and the Government of the French Republic in the Maritime Areas Adjacent to the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Heard Island and the McDonald Islands (Paris, 8 January 2007)[9]


The Antarctic Treaty System's yearly Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM) are the international forum for the administration and management of the region. Only 29 of the 54 parties to the agreements have the right to participate in decision-making at these meetings, though the other 24 are still allowed to attend. The decision-making participants are the Consultative Parties and, in addition to the 12 original signatories, include 17 countries that have demonstrated their interest in Antarctica by carrying out substantial scientific activity there.[10]


[4] Map of research stations and territorial claims in Antarctica (2002)As of 2019, there are 54 states party to the treaty,[2] 29 of which, including all 12 original signatories to the treaty, have consultative (voting) status.[11] Consultative members include the seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national territory. The 46 non-claimant nations either do not recognize the claims of others, or have not stated their positions. [5]   Parties with consulting status making a claim to Antarctic territory  Parties with consulting status reserving the right to make a territorial claim  Other parties with consulting status  Parties without consulting status  Non-party UN member states and observers

Country[2][11][12][13] Signature Ratification/
 Argentina (claim)* Dec 1, 1959 Jun 23, 1961 Jun 23, 1961
 Australia (claim) Dec 1, 1959 Jun 23, 1961 Jun 23, 1961
 Austria No Aug 25, 1987
 Belarus No Dec 27, 2006
 Belgium Dec 1, 1959 Jul 26, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 Brazil No May 16, 1975 Sep 27, 1983
 Bulgaria No Sep 11, 1978 Jun 5, 1998
 Canada No May 4, 1988
 Chile (claim)* Dec 1, 1959 Jun 23, 1961 Jun 23, 1961
 China No Jun 8, 1983 Oct 7, 1985
 Colombia No Jan 31, 1989
 Cuba No Aug 16, 1984
 Czech Republic No Jan 1, 1993 Apr 1, 2014 Succession from  Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.[14]
 Denmark No May 20, 1965
 Ecuador No Sep 15, 1987 Nov 19, 1990
 Estonia No May 17, 2001
 Finland No May 15, 1984 Oct 20, 1989
 France (claim) Dec 1, 1959 Sep 16, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 Germany ( never claimed) No Feb 5, 1979 Mar 3, 1981 Ratified as  West Germany.

 East Germany also acceded on November 19, 1974, and received consultative status on October 5, 1987, prior to its reunification with West Germany.[13][15]

 Greece No Jan 8, 1987
 Guatemala No Jul 31, 1991
 Hungary No Jan 27, 1984
 Iceland No Oct 13, 2015[16]
 India No Aug 19, 1983 Sep 12, 1983
 Italy No Mar 18, 1981 Oct 5, 1987
 Japan Dec 1, 1959 Aug 4, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 Kazakhstan No Jan 27, 2015
 Malaysia No Oct 31, 2011
 Monaco No May 31, 2008
 Mongolia No Mar 23, 2015
 Netherlands No Mar 30, 1967 Nov 19, 1990
 New Zealand (claim) Dec 1, 1959 Nov 1, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 North Korea No Jan 21, 1987
 Norway (claim) Dec 1, 1959 Aug 24, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 Pakistan No Mar 1, 2012
 Papua New Guinea No Mar 16, 1981 Succession from  Australia. Effective from their independence on September 16, 1975.[17]
 Peru No Apr 10, 1981 Oct 9, 1989
 Poland No Jun 8, 1961 Jul 29, 1977
 Portugal No Jan 29, 2010
 Romania No Sep 15, 1971
 Russia** Dec 1, 1959 Nov 2, 1960 Jun 23, 1961 Ratified as the  Soviet Union.[18]
 Slovakia No January 1, 1993 Succession from  Czechoslovakia, which acceded on June 14, 1962.[19]
 Slovenia No April 22, 2019
 South Africa[20] Dec 1, 1959 Jun 21, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 South Korea No Nov 28, 1986 Oct 9, 1989
 Spain No Mar 31, 1982 Sep 21, 1988
 Sweden No Apr 24, 1984 Sep 21, 1988
  Switzerland No Nov 15, 1990
 Turkey No Jan 24, 1996
 Ukraine No Oct 28, 1992 Jun 4, 2004
 United Kingdom (claim)* Dec 1, 1959 May 31, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 United States** Dec 1, 1959 Aug 18, 1960 Jun 23, 1961
 Uruguay No Jan 11, 1980 Oct 7, 1985
 Venezuela No May 24, 1999
  • Claims overlap.
    ** Reserved the right to claim areas.

Antarctic Treaty Secretariat

Main article: Antarctic Treaty SecretariatThe Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in Buenos Aires, Argentina in September 2004 by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM). Jan Huber (Netherlands) served as the first Executive Secretary for five years until August 31, 2009. He was succeeded on September 1, 2009, by Manfred Reinke (Germany).

The tasks of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat can be divided into the following areas:

  • Supporting the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) and the meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP).
  • Facilitating the exchange of information between the Parties required in the Treaty and the Environment Protocol.
  • Collecting, storing, arranging and publishing the documents of the ATCM.
  • Providing and disseminating public information about the Antarctic Treaty system and Antarctic activities.

Legal system

Antarctica currently has no permanent population and therefore it has no citizenship nor government. All personnel present on Antarctica at any time are citizens or nationals of some sovereignty outside Antarctica, as there is no Antarctic sovereignty. The majority of Antarctica is claimed by one or more countries, but most countries do not explicitly recognize those claims. The area on the mainland between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west is the only major land on Earth not claimed by any country.[21] Until 2015 the interior of the Norwegian Sector, the extent of which had never been officially defined,[22] was considered to be unclaimed. That year, Norway formally laid claim to the area between its Queen Maud Land and the South Pole.[23]

Governments that are party to the Antarctic Treaty and its Protocol on Environmental Protection implement the articles of these agreements, and decisions taken under them, through national laws. These laws generally apply only to their own citizens, wherever they are in Antarctica, and serve to enforce the consensus decisions of the consultative parties: about which activities are acceptable, which areas require permits to enter, what processes of environmental impact assessment must precede activities, and so on. The Antarctic Treaty is often considered to represent an example of the common heritage of mankind principle.[24]


[6] This 1959 cover commemorated the opening of the Wilkes post office in the Australian Antarctic Territory.Since the designation of the Australian Antarctic Territory pre-dated the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, Australian laws that relate to Antarctica date from more than two decades before the Antarctic Treaty era. In terms of criminal law, the laws that apply to the Jervis Bay Territory (which follows the laws of the Australian Capital Territory) apply to the Australian Antarctic Territory. Key Australian legislation applying Antarctic Treaty System decisions include the Antarctic Treaty Act 1960, the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 and the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Conservation Act 1981.[25]

United States

The law of the United States, including certain criminal offences by or against U.S. nationals, such as murder, may apply to areas not under jurisdiction of other countries. To this end, the United States now stations special deputy U.S. Marshals in Antarctica to provide a law enforcement presence.[26]

Some U.S. laws directly apply to Antarctica. For example, the Antarctic Conservation Act, Public Law 95-541, 16 U.S.C. § 2401 et seq., provides civil and criminal penalties for the following activities, unless authorized by regulation or statute:

  • the taking of native Antarctic mammals or birds
  • the introduction into Antarctica of non-indigenous plants and animals
  • entry into specially protected or scientific areas
  • the discharge or disposal of pollutants into Antarctica or Antarctic waters
  • the importation into the U.S. of certain items from Antarctica

Violation of the Antarctic Conservation Act carries penalties of up to US$10,000 in fines and one year in prison. The Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Transportation, and the Interior share enforcement responsibilities. The Act requires expeditions from the U.S. to Antarctica to notify, in advance, the Office of Oceans and Polar Affairs of the State Department, which reports such plans to other nations as required by the Antarctic Treaty. Further information is provided by the Office of Polar Programs of the National Science Foundation.

New Zealand

In 2006, the New Zealand police reported that jurisdictional issues prevented them issuing warrants for potential American witnesses who were reluctant to testify during the Christchurch Coroner's investigation into the death by poisoning of Australian astrophysicist Rodney Marks at the South Pole base in May 2000.[27][28] Dr. Marks died while wintering over at the United States' Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station located at the geographic South Pole. Prior to autopsy, the death was attributed to natural causes by the National Science Foundation and the contractor administering the base. However, an autopsy in New Zealand revealed that Dr. Marks died from methanol poisoning. The New Zealand Police launched an investigation. In 2006, frustrated by lack of progress, the Christchurch Coroner said that it was unlikely that Dr. Marks ingested the methanol knowingly, although there is no certainty that he died as the direct result of the act of another person. During media interviews, the police detective in charge of the investigation criticized the National Science Foundation and contractor Raytheon for failing to co-operate with the investigation.[29][30][31]

South Africa

South African law applies to all South African citizens in Antarctica, and they are subject to the jurisdiction of the magistrate's court in Cape Town.[32] In regard to violations of the Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, South Africa also asserts jurisdiction over South African residents and members of expeditions organised in South Africa.[33]

Antarctic Environmental Protection Act

S.C. 2003, c. 20

Assented to 2003-10-20

An Act respecting the protection of the Antarctic Environment


WHEREAS Canada is a party to the Antarctic Treaty, to the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals and to the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources;

WHEREAS the Antarctic is a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science;

AND WHEREAS the Government of Canada is committed to the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems;

NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

1 This Act may be cited as the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act.


Marginal note:Definitions

  • 2 (1) The following definitions apply in this Act.

  • Antarctic means

    • (a) the continent of Antarctica, including its iceshelves;

    • (b) all islands south of 60o south latitude, including their iceshelves;

    • (c) all areas of the continental shelf that are adjacent to that continent or to those islands and that are south of 60o south latitude; and

    • (d) all sea and airspace south of 60o south latitude. (Antarctique)

    authorized representative has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. (représentant autorisé)

    Canadian means

    • (a) a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; or

    • (b) a corporation established or continued under the laws of Canada or a province. (Canadien)

    Canadian aircraft has the same meaning as in subsection 3(1) of the Aeronautics Act. (aéronef canadien)

    Canadian expedition means a journey undertaken by a person or persons

    • (a) that is organized in Canada; or

    • (b) for which the final place of departure of the person or persons is in Canada. (expédition canadienne)

    Canadian vessel has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. (bâtiment canadien)

    Chief Review Officer means the review officer appointed as Chief Review Officer under subsection 244(1) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and includes any review officer designated under subsection 244(3) of that Act to perform the functions of the Chief Review Officer. (réviseur-chef)

    conveyance includes any vehicle, vessel or aircraft. (moyen de transport)

    master includes every person who has command or charge of a vessel but does not include a pilot. (capitaine)

    Minister means the member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada who is designated by the Governor in Council as the Minister for the purpose of this Act. (ministre)

    permit means a permit issued under section 21. (permis)

    place includes any platform anchored at sea, shipping container or conveyance. (lieu)

    Protocol means the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, signed at Madrid on October 4, 1991, as amended from time to time, to the extent that the amendments are binding on Canada. (Protocole)

    registered owner has the same meaning as in subsection 3(1) of the Aeronautics Act. (propriétaire enregistré)

    Treaty means the Antarctic Treaty, signed at Washington on December 1, 1959, as amended from time to time, to the extent that the amendments are binding on Canada. (Traité)

    vessel means a boat, ship or craft designed, used or capable of being used solely or partly for navigation in, on, through or immediately above water, without regard to the method or lack of propulsion, but does not include a fixed platform. (bâtiment)

  • Marginal note:Same meaning

(2) Unless a contrary intention appears, words and expressions used in this Act have the same meaning as in the Treaty or the Protocol.

  • Marginal note:Another Party to the Protocol

(3) A reference in this Act to another Party to the Protocol is a reference to a Party other than Canada.

  • 2003, c. 20, s. 2
  • 2009, c. 14, s. 2
Previous Version
Landfrms Antarctica

Lifting the icy layers off Antarctica reveals high mountains and low valleys — many below sea level.


Marginal note:Purpose of the Act

3 The purpose of this Act is to protect the Antarctic environment, particularly by implementing the Protocol.


Marginal note:Her Majesty

4 This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada and of a province.

Marginal note:Non-application to Canadian Forces

5 This Act does not apply to a member of the Canadian Forces acting in that capacity or in respect of a vessel, facility or aircraft of the Canadian Forces or a foreign military force or in respect of any other vessel, facility or aircraft that is under the command, control or direction of the Canadian Forces.

6 [Repealed, 2012, c. 19, s. 60]

Previous Version


Marginal note:Canadian expeditions

  • 7 (1) No person who is on a Canadian expedition shall be in the Antarctic except in accordance with a permit or under the written authorization of another Party to the Protocol.

  • Marginal note:Exceptions

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who is

    • (a) travelling through, on or above the high seas to an immediate destination outside the Antarctic; or

    • (b) in the Antarctic for the sole purpose of fishing for profit.

Marginal note:Canadian stations

8 No person shall be in a Canadian station in the Antarctic except in accordance with a permit.

Marginal note:Canadian vessels

  • 9 (1) No Canadian vessel shall be in the Antarctic except in accordance with a permit or under the written authorization of another Party to the Protocol.

  • Marginal note:Exceptions

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a Canadian vessel that is

    • (a) travelling through or on the high seas to an immediate destination outside the Antarctic; or

    • (b) in the Antarctic for the sole purpose of fishing for profit.

Marginal note:Canadian aircraft

  • 10 (1) No person shall operate a Canadian aircraft in the Antarctic except in accordance with a permit or under the written authorization of another Party to the Protocol.

  • Marginal note:Exception

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of a Canadian aircraft travelling to an immediate destination outside the Antarctic.

Marginal note:Mineral resources

11 No Canadian or Canadian vessel shall, in the Antarctic, conduct any activity relating to mineral resources, including the recovery or exploitation of, or the prospecting or exploration for, mineral resources. This does not prohibit scientific research conducted in accordance with a permit or under the written authorization of another Party to the Protocol.

Marginal note:Native species

  • 12 (1) Except in accordance with a permit or under the written authorization of another Party to the Protocol, no Canadian shall, in the Antarctic,

    • (a) kill, injure, capture, handle or molest a native mammal or native bird;

    • (b) remove or damage native plants in a manner that significantly affects their local distribution or abundance;

    • (c) fly or land a helicopter or other aircraft in a manner that disturbs any concentration of native birds or seals;

    • (d) use a vehicle or vessel, including a hovercraft and a small boat, in a manner that disturbs any concentration of native birds or seals;

    • (e) use an explosive or firearm in a manner that disturbs any concentration of native birds or seals;

    • (f) while on foot, wilfully disturb a breeding or moulting native bird;

    • (g) while on foot, wilfully disturb any concentration of native birds or seals;

    • (h) significantly damage any concentration of terrestrial native plants by landing an aircraft, driving a vehicle or walking on it, or in any other manner; or

    • (i) engage in any activity that results in the significant adverse modification of the habitat of any species or population of native mammals, native birds, native plants or native invertebrates.

  • Marginal note:Definitions

(2) The following definitions apply in subsection (1).

  • native bird means a member, at any stage of its life cycle, including eggs, of any species of the class Aves that is indigenous to the Antarctic or that occurs there seasonally through natural migrations. (oiseau indigène)

    native invertebrate means any terrestrial or freshwater invertebrate, at any stage of its life cycle, that is indigenous to the Antarctic. (invertébré indigène)

    native mammal means a member of any species of the class Mammalia that is indigenous to the Antarctic or that occurs there seasonally through natural migrations. (mammifère indigène)

    native plant means any terrestrial or freshwater vegetation, including bryophytes, lichens, fungi and algae, at any stage of its life cycle, including seeds and other propagules, that is indigenous to the Antarctic. (plante indigène)

The climate of Antarctica is the coldest on Earth. The lowest air temperature record on Antarctica was set on 21 July 1983, when −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) was observed at Vostok Station.[1] Satellite measurements have identified even lower ground temperatures, with −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F) having been observed at the cloud-free East Antarctic Plateau on 10 August 2010.[2]

The continent is also extremely dry (it is technically a desert), averaging 166 mm (6.5 in) of precipitation per year. Snow rarely melts on most parts of the continent, and, after being compressed, becomes the glacier ice that makes up the ice sheet. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent, because of the katabatic winds. Most of Antarctica has an ice-cap climate (Köppen classification EF) with very cold, generally extremely dry weather.



[7] The Antarctic temperature changes during the last several glacial and interglacial cycles of the present ice ageThe lowest reliably measured temperature of a continuously occupied station on Earth of −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) was on 21 July 1983 at Vostok Station.[3][4] For comparison, this is 10.7 °C (19.3 °F) colder than subliming dry ice (at sea level pressure). The altitude of the location is 3,488 meters (11,444 feet).

The lowest recorded temperature of any location on Earth's surface at 81.8°S 63.5°E was revised with new data in 2018 in nearly 100 locations, ranging from −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F)[5] to −98 °C (−144.4 °F).[6] This unnamed part of the Antarctic plateau, between Dome A and Dome F, was measured on August 10, 2010, and the temperature was deduced from radiance measured by the Landsat 8 and other satellites, and discovered during a National Snow and Ice Data Center review of stored data in December, 2013[7] but revice by researcher on June 25 2018.[8][9] This temperature is not directly comparable to the –89.2 °C reading quoted above, since it is a skin temperature deduced from satellite-measured upwelling radiance, rather than a thermometer-measured temperature of the air 1.5 m (4.9 ft) above the ground surface.

The highest temperature ever recorded on the Antarctic continent was 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) at Esperanza Base, on the Antarctic Peninsula, on 24 March 2015.[10] A higher temperature of 19.8 °C (67.6 °F) at Signy Research Station on 30 January 1982 is the record for the Antarctic region encompassing all land and ice south of 60° S.[11]

The mean annual temperature of the interior is −57 °C (−70.6 °F). The coast is warmer; on the coast Antarctic average temperatures are around −10 °C (14.0 °F) (in the warmest parts of Antarctica) and in the elevated inland they average about −55 °C (−67.0 °F) in Vostok.[12][13] Monthly means at McMurdo Station range from −26 °C (−14.8 °F) in August to −3 °C (26.6 °F) in January.[14] At the South Pole, the highest temperature ever recorded was −12.3 °C (9.9 °F) on 25 December 2011.[15] Along the Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures as high as 15 °C (59 °F) have been recorded,[clarification needed] though the summer temperature is below 0 °C (32 °F) most of the time. Severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation, and distance from the ocean. East Antarctica is colder than West Antarctica because of its higher elevation.[citation needed] The Antarctic Peninsula has the most moderate climate. Higher temperatures occur in January along the coast and average slightly below freezing.

Landfrms Ant

Subglacial aquatic system.

[8] Map of average annual precipitation on Antarctica (mm liquid equivalent)The total precipitation on Antarctica, averaged over the entire continent, is about 166 millimetres (6.5 inches) per year (Vaughan et al., J Climate, 1999). The actual rates vary widely, from high values over the Peninsula (15 to 25 inches a year) to very low values (as little as 50 millimetres (2.0 inches) in the high interior (Bromwich, Reviews of Geophysics, 1988). Areas that receive less than 250 millimetres (9.8 inches) of precipitation per year are classified as deserts. Almost all Antarctic precipitation falls as snow.[16] Rainfall is rare and mainly occurs during the summer in coastal areas and surrounding islands.[16] Note that the quoted precipitation is a measure of its equivalence to water, rather than being the actual depth of snow. The air in Antarctica is also very dry. The low temperatures result in a very low absolute humidity, which means that dry skin and cracked lips are a continual problem for scientists and expeditioners working in the continent.

Weather condition classification

Main article: Antarctica Weather Danger ClassificationThe weather in Antarctica can be highly variable, and the weather conditions can often change dramatically in short periods of time. There are various classifications for describing weather conditions in Antarctica; restrictions given to workers during the different conditions vary by station and nation.[17][18][19]

Ice cover

Nearly all of Antarctica is covered by a sheet of ice that is, on average, a mile thick or more (1.6 km). Antarctica contains 90% of the world's ice and more than 70% of its fresh water. If all the land-ice covering Antarctica were to melt — around 30 million cubic kilometres (7.2 million cubic miles) of ice — the seas would rise by over 60 metres (200 feet).[20] This is, however, very unlikely within the next few centuries. The Antarctic is so cold that even with increases of a few degrees, temperatures would generally remain below the melting point of ice. Higher temperatures are expected to lead to more precipitation, which takes the form of snow. This would increase the amount of ice in Antarctica, offsetting approximately one third of the expected sea level rise from thermal expansion of the oceans.[21] During a recent decade, East Antarctica thickened at an average rate of about 1.8 centimetres (0.71 in) per year while West Antarctica showed an overall thinning of 0.9 centimetres (0.35 in) per year.[22] For the contribution of Antarctica to present and future sea level change, see sea level rise. Because ice flows, albeit slowly, the ice within the ice sheet is younger than the age of the sheet itself.

Morphometric data for Antarctica (from Drewry, 1983)
Surface Area
Percent Mean ice thickness
Inland ice sheet 11,965,700 85.97 2,450 29,324,700 97.00
Ice shelves 1,541,710 11.08 475 731,900 2.43
Ice rises 78,970 .57 670 53,100 .18
Glacier ice (total) 13,586,380 2,160 30,109,800¹
Rock outcrop 331,690 2.38
Antarctica (total) 13,918,070 100.00 2,160 30,109,800¹ 100.00
¹The total ice volume is different from the sum of the component parts because individual figures have been rounded.
Regional ice data (from Drewry and others, 1982; Drewry, 1983)
Region Area
Mean ice
East Antarctica
Inland ice 9,855,570 2,630 25,920,100
Ice shelves 293,510 400 117,400
Ice rises 4,090 400 1,600
West Antarctica (excluding Antarctic Peninsula)
Inland ice sheet 1,809,760 1,780 3,221,400
Ice shelves 104,860 375 39,300
Ice rises 3,550 375 1,300
Antarctic Peninsula
Inland ice sheet 300,380 610 183,200
Ice shelves 144,750 300 43,400
Ice rises 1,570 300 500
Ross Ice Shelf
Ice shelf 525,840 427 224,500
Ice rises 10,320 500 5,100
Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf
Ice shelf 472,760 650 307,300
Ice rises 59,440 750 44,600

Ice shelves

[9] Antarctic ice shelves, 1998About 75% of the coastline of Antarctica is shelf ice. The majority of shelf ice consists of floating ice, and a lesser amount consists of glaciers that move slowly from the land mass into the sea. Ice shelves lose mass through breakup of glacial ice (calving), or basal melting due to warm ocean water under the ice.[23]

Melting or breakup of floating shelf ice does not directly affect global sea levels; however, ice shelves have a buttressing effect on the ice flow behind them. If ice shelves break up, the ice flow behind them may accelerate, resulting in increasing melt of the Antarctic ice sheet and an increasing contribution to sea level.

Known changes in coastline ice:

  • Around the Antarctic Peninsula:
    • 1936–1989: Wordie Ice Shelf significantly reduced in size.
    • 1995: Ice in the Prince Gustav Channel disintegrated.
    • Parts of the Larsen Ice Shelf broke up in recent decades.
      • 1995: The Larsen A ice shelf disintegrated in January 1995.
      • 2001: 3,250 square kilometres (1,250 square miles) of the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in February 2001. It had been gradually retreating before the breakup event.
      • 2015: A study concluded that the remaining Larsen B ice-shelf will disintegrate by the end of the decade, based on observations of faster flow and rapid thinning of glaciers in the area.[24]

The George VI Ice Shelf, which may be on the brink of instability,[25] has probably existed for approximately 8,000 years, after melting 1,500 years earlier.[26] Warm ocean currents may have been the cause of the melting.[27] Not only the ice sheets are losing mass, but they are losing mass at an accelerating rate.[28]

Global warming

Main article: Global warming in Antarctica[10] Antarctic Skin Temperature Trends between 1981 and 2007, based on thermal infrared observations made by a series of NOAA satellite sensors. Skin temperature trends do not necessarily reflect air temperature trends.The continent-wide average surface temperature trend of Antarctica is positive – that is, the temperature is increasing – and significant at more than 0.05 °C (0.09 °F) per decade since 1957.[29][30][31][32] The West Antarctic ice sheet has warmed by more than 0.1 °C (0.18 °F) per decade in the last 50 years,[33] and is strongest in winter and spring. Although this is partly offset by fall cooling in East Antarctica, this effect is restricted to the 1980s and 1990s.[29][30][31]

Research published in 2009 found that overall the continent had become warmer since the 1950s, a finding consistent with the influence of man-made climate change. "We can't pin it down, but it certainly is consistent with the influence of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels", said NASA scientist Drew Shindell, one of the study's authors. Some of the effects could be due to natural variability, he added.[34]

The British Antarctic Survey, which has undertaken the majority of Britain's scientific research in the area, stated in 2009:[35]

  • West Antarctic ice loss could contribute to 1.4 metres (4 feet 7 inches) sea level rise
  • Antarctica predicted to warm by around 3 °C (5.4 °F) over this century
  • 10% increase in sea ice around the Antarctic
  • Rapid ice loss in parts of the Antarctic
  • Warming of the Southern Ocean will cause changes in Antarctic ecosystem
  • Hole in ozone layer, which has shielded most of Antarctica from global warming

[11] 20 September 2007 NASA map showing previously un-melted snowmeltThe area of strongest cooling appears at the South Pole, and the region of strongest warming lies along the Antarctic Peninsula. A possible explanation is that loss of UV-absorbing ozone may have cooled the stratosphere and strengthened the polar vortex, a pattern of spinning winds around the South Pole. The vortex acts like an atmospheric barrier, preventing warmer, coastal air from moving into the continent's interior. A stronger polar vortex might explain the cooling trend in the interior of Antarctica.[36]

In their latest study (20 September 2007) NASA researchers have confirmed that Antarctic snow is melting farther inland from the coast over time, melting at higher altitudes than ever and increasingly melting on Antarctica's largest ice shelf.[37]

There is also evidence for widespread glacier retreat around the Antarctic Peninsula.[38]

Researchers reported on 21 December 2012 in Nature Geoscience that from 1958 to 2010, the average temperature at the mile-high Byrd Station rose by 2.4 °C (4.3 °F), with warming fastest in its winter and spring. The spot, which is located in the heart of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth. In 2015, the temperature showed changes but in a stable manner and the only months that have drastic change in that year are August and September. It also did show that the temperature was very stable throughout the year.[39][40][41][42]

The purpose of the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act (AEPA) is to protect the Antarctic environment by implementing the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. The AEPA provides the legislative basis that Canada requires to oversee Canadian activities in the Antarctic and otherwise fulfill the Madrid Protocol's obligations. The Minister of the Environment is responsible for the AEPA.

The AEPA applies to Canadians, Canadian aircraft and Canadian vessels as defined in the Act. Canadians include Canadian citizens, permanent residents and Canadian corporations as defined in the Act. The Act also applies to anyone who is part of a Canadian expedition in the Antarctic. For the purpose of the Act, a Canadian expedition is an expedition that is organized in Canada or for which the final place of departure is Canada.

The Act specifically prohibits Canadians and Canadian vessels where applicable, from undertaking the following activities in the Antarctic under any circumstance:

   Damage of historic sites or monuments 
   Open air burning of waste  
   Disposal of waste in ice-free areas or freshwater systems
   Discharge into the sea any products or substances that are harmful to the marine environment except under the conditions established for the disposal of domestic liquid waste under Section 43 of the Regulations 
   Introduction of prohibited substances into the Antarctic
   Possession, sale or transport of anything that has been obtained in contravention of the Act or its Regulations

The concept of cities in Antarctica is different than the concept elsewhere in the world.

For one thing, each Antarctican city has its own unique design. It is hard to imagine someone strolling through a city in Antarctica and not immediately knowing which of the cities they are in, based solely on the architecture.

For another, there are no streets in Antarctican cities. People get from one area to another either by walking along the boulevards and forest paths, or calling upon their flyer to drop them off at their next destination.

Because the people of Antarctica handle much of their own needs through home-based technology, most of the buildings in Antarctican cities are devoted to the arts and sciences, private residences, and a generous representation of restaurants, rather than commerce (office buildings, as that term is understood elsewhere in the world, make up less than ten percent of city structures). Antarctican cities also contain an unusually large amount of space set aside for parks and natural habitats. No matter where you are in an Antarctican city, you are never more than a five minute walk from a small forest, or a ten minute walk from a waterfall.

In addition to the hundreds of small cities, townships and villages within the continent, there are seven major metropolises. The scope of this article is limited to a brief description of each of those seven. Anyone curious to know greater details about these seven, or information on Antarctica's hundreds of charming smaller municipalities, is urged to contact the nearest Antarctican embassy. (Please see Tourism for a complete list of embassies and their locations).

All visitors to Antarctica arrive first in the oceanside city of Delphia, located on Antarctica's southern shore. The city is famous for its magnificent blue and green bays, which stretch all the way within the city itself. Nearly all structures in Delphia are built of gray granite, so that after a fresh rain the city glistens like a seal. Hot air ballooning is a popular pastime, and in fact there are some families and individuals whose homes are kept aloft by balloons year-round. In addition to its extensive collection of libraries, Delphia is also known for its restaurants, such as the Irunijef, which stretches across seven city blocks, serving hundreds of different seafood dishes.

Dell, on the eastern shore of the continent, is built around its miles of white beaches. Because many of the beaches extend into the city itself, it is not unusual, strolling the boulevards to get from one building to the next, to spot whales surfacing, and dolphins leaping, in the adjacent coves. In addition to its reputation for some of the finest museums in Antarctica, Dell is also known for its extensive space exploration complex, which has been in operation since the mid-eighteen hundreds.

One of the most unusual cities in Antarctica is Faz, a massive underground city in northern Antarctica. Faz consists entirely of underground caverns, some eighty stories high, carved by water over millions of years. The caverns themselves are comprised of a highly reflective form of rose quartz, so that the entire city can be illuminated by a single candle placed near the entrance (but away from drafts). At seven o'clock each evening, the candle's light is puffed out. Faz is best known for its research facilities, and the awe-inspiring Heart of Waterfalls located in the center of the underground city, where one hundred and thirty-six different waterfalls of various heights (some as tall as a skyscraper) tumble ceaselessly down into a blue pool fifty miles in diameter. Visitors also usually take time to explore the extensive moss forest tucked into the eastern corner of the city.

The oldest city in Antarctica, and also the seat of the "government" of Antarctica, such as it is, is the city of Urdz, located on the northern shore. Urdz is home to the Great Hall, the most ancient man-built structure in Antarctica, dating back 40,000 years. The buildings in the city are comprised entirely of red quartz and blue glaciers. Urdz is the largest producer of roses in the nation, with over 10,000 varieties, including 100 different species of pure blues.

At least once in each Antarctican's lifetime, a pilgrimage is made to Mimosa, on the western shore of Antarctica, site of the continent's only battle, in 1403 B.C., to repel foreign invaders. Mimosa is home to the world's largest sculpture, consisting of 620,000 intricately-carved life-sized statues which fill the bay, shoreline and hills. The city also offers an excellent example of a Fes, the circular area of common buildings often found in early Antarctican towns.

Suh, located halfway up the western peninsula of the continent, is composed entirely of huge statues in which its citizens live and work. The tallest of these, a tribute to Hal Felix, who conceived the notion of the Five Concepts, is eighteen stories high. The city is famous for its noodles, its huge population of elfs, a cat-like creature native to Antarctica, and its botanical research.

Squirbranchrel, in the northern forest, is the oldest and largest example of the original Antarctican communities, when the natives lived in trees (Antarcticans did not go through a cave-dwelling phase). Fifty miles wide, and thirty miles deep, the city is built entirely in the treetops of the region, its buildings connected to one another through an elaborate series of multi-level wooden bridges. Squirbranchrel boasts the continent's tallest skyscraper, measured from base to wooden observation deck, as well as the world's largest aquarium (twelve miles wide, eight miles deep, three miles high). Antarcticans love to eat.

Their amazing metabolism allows Antarcticans to eat great quantities of food without going above their ideal weight, although most meals are generally the size and diversity of what an American, for example, might eat on Thanksgiving.

By far the most popular food in Antarctica is seafood, and in particular shellfish. Because nearly all the population lives near the shores, and the interior itself is saturated with lakes, rivers and streams, most seafood and fresh water fish is simply caught an hour or so before dinner, and kept in a tin bucket of cold, emerald water until it is time for it to be cooked (other than clams, oysters and caviar, Antarcticans do not eat their seafood raw). Antarctica's waters abound with food, most of which will be familiar to non-natives: tuna, swordfish, halibut, snapper, flounder, sand dabs and sea bass are the most popular ocean fish, and trout and salmon the most popular from the rivers and streams. The only fish known to be unique to Antarctica is the salt water Wem, which grows up to a foot and a half in length, has no scales, and is boneless (its head is encased in cartilage). Wem, when cooked, changes from a pearly grey to pure white, and becomes slightly springy. It's extremely popular because of its ease of preparation, and its ability to absorb the flavors of the foods with which it is cooked. There are a large variety of shrimp, some of which grow nearly a foot in length, as well as several species of lobster, including the Antarctican blue lobster, with large fore claws and side legs much thicker and more meat-filled than its Atlantic cousin. Crab and mussels are found primarily along the northern shores, and are among the few seafoods an Antarctican (those Antarcticans living other than in the north) purchases rather than catches.

Among land animals, the most popular meat is pork. Antarcticans generally eat it in one form or another at least once a day, either as chops, roasts, sausages, stuffings, marinated slices or in stews (there are hundreds of different pork stew recipes). It is also, of course, frequently smoked for hams and bacon. Also very popular is beef, although only certain cuts: Antarcticans eat rib eye and porterhouse steaks, filet mignon, rib roasts and are fond of sliced roast beef, served in hot and cold sandwiches, as well as a chuck pot roast, chula, which is covered with grated horseradish briefly marinated in vinegar, then cooked with beef stock and root vegetables, but the rest of the cow is generally used for ground beef (ground beef, often mixed with ground veal and pork, is popular in a variety of wrapped dishes, as well as used to fashion meat balls and a type of meatloaf made with carrots; in the late 1940's, the hamburger was first introduced to Antarctica by explorers returning home, and has since become one of the nation's most popular foods, along with hot dogs, which were introduced a decade earlier). Veal and lamb are also popular, as are a variety of game.

Among fowl, the most popular is duck. A favorite lunchtime meal, sold in the plazas of most Antarctican cities, is a "flat and bent", meaning a duck breast seared in a skillet until it is just done, then thinly sliced and placed on a bed of crisp greens in a wide, chewy hard roll, moistened with several sauces, and served with a roasted duck leg on the side. After duck, most Antarcticans prefer goose, then chicken, then turkey (turkey has not been domesticated in Antarctica. It is still wild).

The most popular drink in Antarctica is plain ice water. Whenever an Antarctican sits, there seems always to be a glass at his or her side. Sparkling water can be obtained from Antarctica's many mineral wells, and some people drink it, but it is not as popular as it is elsewhere in the world. Fruit juices are popular, particularly citrus and melon varieties. After dinner, an Antarctican will often have a "dessert drink", which in Antarctica refers to an ice cream soda, a milkshake, or a particularly flavorful local drink made with chilled cream, coffee and sugar known as a 'starter', although it's unclear what it starts, since it comes at the end of the meal. Other than in these forms, and added to coffee, milk is generally used in Antarctica only for marinating and cooking-- it is not served as a drink. There are no carbonated sodas, such as colas or ginger ales, in Antarctica. They apparently never caught on.

Among alcoholic drinks, beer (known as spatendunk), is the most popular. Antarcticans prefer their beers to be dark and strong-flavored, with slightly more bitterness than most Westerners are accustomed to, and served ice cold. There are a number of commercial breweries throughout the nation, but many Antarcticans prepare their own. A variety of alcoholic flavorings made from fermented roots are frequently used with hot coffee and cream, and vodka mixed with different fruit juices is also popular. Wine, when it is served, is almost always red. White wine is made, but is used primarily for cooking, and even then, not very often. There are no dessert wines in Antarctica. Whiskey is popular with about ten percent of Antarcticans. It is usually served very cold, often with a small amount of fermented root flavorings added, and a pinch of sugar. As a part of their unusual metabolism, Antarcticans feel the cheerful effects of alcohol, but are apparently not subject to the sometimes negative effects (anger, conversation monopolization) which can occur.

The most popular condiment in Antarctica is mustard (there is said to be over 400 varieties available), followed by mayonnaise and ketchup. Relishes tend to be strong-flavored, and not sweet: the most common are a garlicky blend of chopped-up olives; a cooked mixture of julienned red and green bell peppers and chilies; and a cooked, cooled, minced mushroom spread.

It has been said that it is impossible to get a bad meal in an Antarctican restaurant. Even the smallest establishment serves extraordinary food; the most famous places prepare meals that are remembered decades later. There is not enough space here to survey all the stellar Antarctican establishments; suffice it to say that the typical visit to an Antarctican restaurant involves being led from the sunlight of the sidewalk to a cool, dark private roomette where an amazing variety of edibles are offered and discussed, hung by the waiter's hands upside down, and still kicking, or cradled across palms, still tail-flicking wet from the tanks, or placed on a white linen napkin in the middle of the table, green and yellow, still crisp and sun-warmed, clumps of chocolate earth still belling along the hairy striped roots.

Antarcticans are excellent cooks, no doubt because of the importance they place on physical pleasures. Most Antarcticans cook at home using an oyster (not to be confused with the seafood-- the name appears to be a coincidence).

An oyster is a large, square skillet made of cast iron, the left two thirds of which is a flat cooking surface with a slight border, and the right third of which is comprised of three equal-sized, square cooking wells.

The oyster is used to cook most Antarctican meals (the typical Antarctican household also has a cast iron stove, used for roasting larger cuts of meat, and for certain baked goods), and is remarkably versatile in its uses.

The flat portion of the oyster is used for sautéing, and for an Antarctican cooking technique known as "splash steaming", whereby the cook, armed with a bottle filled with water, stock or other liquid in her left hand, and a wide spatula in her right, cooks foods at an extremely high heat by continuously flipping the food into the air, splashing the bottled liquid on the surface to produce a steam the food is seared and moistened with, then flattening the food momentarily against the hot flat cooking surface before flipping it into the air again and resteaming it. Splash steaming is used with some vegetables and fruits, and occasionally with seafood. It tends to produce food full of flavor, and incredibly moist.

The three cooking wells on the right of the oyster are used for steaming, poaching, boiling, stewing, braising, deep-frying, baking, charbroiling, creating stocks, and reducing and thickening sauces.

Antarcticans normally eat twice a day, once in late morning, and once at late evening.

Antarcticans divide meats into two categories: "day" meats and "night" meats. Day meats are fowl and seafood; night meats are pork, beef, veal, lamb and game other than fowl. If a night meat is smoked or brined, such as a ham, it is considered a day meat (If a day meat is smoked or brined, such as smoked salmon, it is still considered to be a day meat).

Virtually all meals include at least two meats, and a variety of vegetables, fruits and grains. It is a tradition that one of the meats is a day meat, and one is a night meat (since both types of meat are eaten during the day meal, and both types are eaten during the night meal, it is not known why Antarcticans categorize meats the way they do).

While a meal is being prepared, Antarcticans typically sauté in fresh butter, on a corner of the cooking surface, a small mound of wild mushrooms, onto which is drizzled various sauces. These mushrooms are then eaten by the cook and any guests while the meal is cooked.

Once a meal is ready to be served, all the foods are removed from the wells, and a thick batter of ground wheat and mushroom poured into each well to a depth of about two inches. This batter, once it has absorbed all the flavors left in each well, and dried somewhat, is then pulled out and served with the meal much as one would biscuits. Similarly, once all the foods are removed from the flat cooking surface of the oyster, a thin layer of batter is poured across the hot surface to soak up all the juices of the foods cooked on the surface, then adroitly flipped, allowed to cook momentarily on the other side, then sliced up into large squares which can be eaten plain (they are delicious!) or used to roll up the foods served. Many visitors assume Antarctica is a socialist state, because so few of its inhabitants appear to have jobs.

In truth, Antarcticans have little need for money. Antarctica is completely self-sufficient (it neither imports nor exports), and its citizens nearly so. They enjoy hand-making most of their possessions, the materials for which are abundantly available.

If an Antarctican needs furniture, for example, she and possibly some of her friends will stroll out into the woods, find a fallen tree whose grain is pleasing, and haul it back to her home, where she can take her time fashioning the perfect dining room set. If an Antarctican needs to build a home, he looks around until he finds a piece of available land that pleases him, marks off the acreage he wishes others to consider to be his (which is always honored), and builds the home he has imagined out of the stone and wood in that area (albeit often, but not always, with the help of a rented klammerhoppper). There is no cost for the land (all land outside the cities not marked-off is free. Whomever marks it off, owns it).

Nearly all Antarcticans maintain year-round farms on a part of their land, and therefore have a more than adequate food supply. Free water comes from an Antarctican's own property (almost all of Antarctica is pleasantly saturated with lakes, creeks and rivers, and all of the water is pure). Power is supplied by small windmills on each property. What an Antarctican does not have the talent to create himself, he barters for with an Antarctican who does, offering an equivalent object in exchange.

Money is used for items it is impractical for an Antarctican to create on her own, such as computer chips, lightbulbs and flyers; for rent for a city apartment (most Antarcticans own a country home and rent a city apartment); and for meals eaten out.

Antarcticans generally work only four months out of each year, which is sufficient to maintain a very comfortable existence. Even during those four months Antarcticans work only three days a week, and six hours a day. Most Antarcticans enter the workforce at age thirty, and retire at age fifty. Unlike the peoples of most nations, working at a job for income is only a small part of an Antarctican's life.

All businesses in Antarctica are privately owned (there are no publicly-traded companies, and therefore no stock exchange). Because there is virtually no crime in Antarctica, citizens keep their life savings at home. As a consequence, the concept of banks never arose. Although there is a government, it owns no property. All "public buildings" (libraries, concert halls, hospitals) are built through contributions.

A common practice in Antarctica which contributes confusion towards the nature of Antarctican economy is the voluntary program usually referred to as "deferral". Under deferral, the government provides a citizen with an annual grant until such time as the citizen begins working (usually at age thirty). The citizen then repays the government the amount of the grant out of his salary. There is no interest on the grant, because there is no inflation in Antarctica (the amount repaid is therefore equal in value to the amount lent), and the government's purpose in lending the money is not to gain a profit.

The basic unit of exchange is a heavy in the palm, circular coin with notched edges and bright surfaces known as the devo. It is made of solid gold. One side depicts the continent of Antarctica, the other, a short, engraved poem or text which changes with each minting. A ruse is worth one twelfth of a devo, and a penny one twelfth of a ruse. A ruse is made from treated pyrite. A penny is made from silver.

The average annual salary in Antarctica for four month's work is 3,600 De. To place this amount in context, a year's rental of a spacious, well-appointed suite high above one of the cities is about 450 De.

There are no taxes in Antarctica. The government, small as it is, is supported by contributions. Antarctica is not a democracy.

There are no political parties in Antarctica, no elections, no Congress nor Parliament, nor President, Prime Minister, or King. There are no laws, courthouses, attorneys, police or jails. Antarcticans have many heroes in their history, artists, discoverers, and daredevils, but there has never been any one individual who is thought of as having "led the nation", a colloquialism that has to be explained to Antarcticans.

Government in Antarctica is almost non-existent, and is what most people would consider "unofficial". What government there is, is comprised entirely of volunteers. They rarely meet.

Anyone who wishes to be a part of the Antarctican government, either on the national or local level, may do so simply by volunteering their services. The government posts the projects it is currently working on, on the Internet. People wishing to get involved in government may contact the committee working on the project, and by that contact become part of the committee. One stops being a part of the government by no longer participating in the process.

Committee "meetings" take place on Web-based bulletin boards, the full texts of which are available to the public ("public" is perhaps the wrong word to use here, since it suggests a separation between the people and their government, a populace unaware of what is happening within its own government, except for occasional "public disclosures", whereas in Antarctica full knowledge about the government's activities is readily available to all).

There is no chair to a committee. Whoever appears to have the best ideas is usually looked upon by the other committee members as the key member of that committee, and holds that status until someone with even better ideas comes along. In this regard, many outsiders, needing to put some sort of label on Antarctican government, classify it as a meritocracy.

The government has no power of enforcement, and is therefore limited to making suggestions. A recent example will illustrate the government's role in everyday life. Now that Antarctica has decided to allow visitors to its shores, one of the committees formed to aid in that effort decided to focus on devising a series of standardized symbols which could be useful to non-English-speaking visitors trying to locate restaurants, hotels, sights of interest, etc. The committee developed signs based in large part, deliberately, on symbols visitors might already be familiar with from their use for that purpose in other nations. These designs have been made available to the general populace, but there is nothing which would force Antarcticans to display the signs, or prevent them from displaying alternate signs they might think more appropriate, or no signs at all.

A question asked frequently by outsiders is if Antarcticans fear their government might be "taken over" internally, since it is so easy to become a part of the government. Antarcticans don't fear this at all. For one thing, the government is, in a sense, constantly taken over already, since the people most influential on committees tend to change fairly regularly, as senior members leave for other interests, and new members sign on. For another, Antarcticans are simply not interested in gaining power over others. Personal honor (truthfulness, kindness, helpfulness) has been such a dominant idea in Antarctican culture for so many thousands of years that to behave in a dishonorable way is something to which no Antarctican would lower himself (which in large part is why there is virtually no crime in Antarctica, and none of the infrastructure associated with crime, such as law, courts, attorneys and police). For a third, even if the government were to be violently "taken over", all present committee members assassinated and replaced, the government still has no powers of enforcement and could never gain any, and so therefore the individuals involved in the take-over would not be better positioned than before. Indeed, since government in Antarctica is based on casual cooperation rather than official institutions (of which there are none), a taken-over government would simply be ignored, and a new body of people willing to make suggestions on national or local issues would arise to take its place. (This issue is absurd to Antarcticans, since it simply would never happen, but it has been addressed here because it comes up so frequently in press conferences).

Another common question asked is if Antarcticans fear, if not a take-over from within, then at least a takeover from without. This idea would appear initially to have some merit, since the memory of the attempted invasion of Antarctica in 1403 B.C., which resulted in so many Antarctican dead (600,000 men, women and children, representing 20% of the population), and which in fact brought about the decision to create a national government, figures so prominently in Antarctican history (please see History). However, because that battle did have so strong an impact on Antarcticans, steps were taken long ago to prevent any possible invasion of the continent, using an application of nin, one of the Five Concepts (please see Beliefs), which apparently acts as a protective shield not only against armies, but also against pollution, warming effects, and all the other adverse byproducts of the rest of the world.

In addition to the national government, there are local governments at the city and village level, and regional governments for the three Hopes, and for the Great Hollow. But again, it must be cautioned that in speaking of government in terms of Antarctica, we are talking of something very different from what the rest of the world means by that word. The "government" for the Great Hollow, for example, consists of a single committee of three scholars, who have not "met" over the Internet to discuss the Great Hollow in over a decade.

When we say therefore that Antarctica is not a democracy, we mean that it is not ruled by any entity, whether it be the people themselves, or someone basing their rule on popular support, God, or the army. When Antarcticans think of their nation, they think of the forests and jungles, the cities and lakes, the mountains and shores. They do not think of it as something ruled, even by themselves. The history of Antarctica's people can be traced back seven thousand years. Nothing is known-- at least among non-Antarcticans-- about their history prior to 5,000 B.C. Carbon dating has established that some of the oldest structures still standing in Antarctica were built circa 12,000 B.C., with the exception of the Great Hall in Urdz, which dates back to approximately 40,000 B.C.

Because of the unique nature of the native Antarctican language, bus, which relies heavily upon non-verbal signals such as body stance and facial expression to convey the full sense of what is being communicated, which such signals are obviously difficult to transcribe accurately, there is not the large body of written records one would otherwise expect from so long-lived a people. Written documentation of the history of Antarctica did not start in earnest until the 1700's, when the Antarcticans adopted English as their official language and began writing down their history in a substantive way, a process which lasted from 1710 through 1860. Nearly all of Antarctica's known seven thousand year history, in other words, is based on written records that are only 150 to 300 years old. However, the few surviving manuscripts written in bus, which date from 3,300 B.C. to the eighteenth century, do not contradict the later records written in English.

At 5,000 B.C., Antarctica held a population of nearly three hundred thousand people. Approximately two hundred thousand were members of one of five large tribes that had settled different areas of the continent's shoreline. Another 80,000 were members of smaller, nomadic tribes, and 20,000 lived by themselves in the woods, the jungles or the mountains of Antarctica, either in family or quasi-family units, or alone.

This was the age when the great Antarctican cities began, from Delphia and Ipsolon along the southern shore, Suh on the western banks and Dell on the eastern, to the great glacier and quartz city of Urdz in the northern lands.

To a degree unusual for that era, all tribes of Antarctica, though some of them were separated from each other by thousands of miles, kept a regular communication with each other, and thought of themselves as one people, despite the immense distances between the communities. Equally remarkable, there was no warfare among the various settlements. Tribes met often, but peacefully.

While the five great original cities of Antarctica were being built, a process that took several centuries, many of the nomadic tribes began settling in the hills above the coves and bays of the southern and eastern seashore, perhaps realizing, from their visits to the five cities, the advantages of having a home to return to.

The typical seaside community built by the nomads was constructed around a circular area of common buildings (known in bus as a fes) where community members could socialize and trade. The typical fes would consist of several markets, a school, a meeting hall, and other public buildings, all of them arranged in concentric circles around the center of the fes. The center itself would be a perfectly round open space, paved or planted, depending upon local custom, which, among other purposes, was used for town entertainment.

In the typical village, people lived off the abundance around them: fish from the sea, crops from the ground and game from the surrounding woods. They built their own homes, taking as much land as they wanted. As is typical throughout Antarctican history, there was no "leader" within the town or within the tribe that had settled the town. Everyone did what they more or less wanted to; if there was a dispute, both sides would sit down to resolve the issue.

Antarcticans were, by 5,000 B.C., and no doubt because of the abundance of waterways throughout their nation, skilled fishermen and sailors. Around 3,500 B.C. Antarcticans first began sailing across the ocean, trading with the tribes along the southern shore of what is now known as South America, eventually traveling in their ships as far north as present-day Brazil. Later, having constructed larger ships, they increased their explorations to include the southern portion of Africa, the Orient, and the Indian subcontinent.

The Antarcticans traded for seeds and animals not known in Antarctica. Some of the earliest bus songs tell of great Antarctican vessels sailing late at night, festooned with lanterns, towards home, laden in the water with tigers, ostriches, giraffes, butterflys and other animals not native to the continent. For these exotic creatures the Antarcticans offered in trade knowledge: how to construct an arch, how to stop bleeding, how to preserve food; a commodity which travels light over the oceans, does not spoil, and can be traded again and again.

This practice of obtaining animals and seeds through trade accounts for the stunning abundance of species present on the continent today. Please see Fauna for more details.

The great tragedy in Antarctican history occurred in 1403 B.C., at Mimosa, a seaport town of 90,000 on the southern shore.

The town awoke as always on the morning of March 26, walking outside to discover a vast, dark armanda of sailing ships in its harbor. Armored men were already rowing towards the shore, a hastily-drawn delegation of villagers striding across the sand to meet the first of the ships where they would land. Within a minute of the prows scraping up onto the sand, all dozen of the delegation were slaughtered, with a hundred more rowing ships reaching shore and a thousand more behind them in the waves.

The Mimosans, aware of war from their travels, were like all Antarcticans peaceful, and had no weapons. Picking up machetes used to clear land, and long-handled hammers used in building, all of them, to a person, ran to the shore to defend their home. Their early advantage of numbers evaporated as more and more of the rowing ships touched shore in the wide bay; soon the beach was red with blood. The invaders spared no one, not man, woman nor child. To this day, Antarcticans insist the invaders used not only swords and spears, but also a new type of weapon, which from its description is clearly firearms. Here we can only repeat what the history has recorded, adding of course that the discovery of gunpowder is generally believed to not have been invented until much later.

As the Mimosans were slowly beaten back across the sands to their village, Antarcticans from nearby towns along the cove arrived, answering the alarms that had been sounded from the village's tower, and the birds that had been quickly dispatched with notes attached to their claws. But these reinforcements, expecting a fire that needed to be put out, or a tiger that needed to be run out of the village streets, had no weapons at all. Coming over the hill above Mimosa, and around the curve of its cove, they saw 60,000 of their own already hacked and blown apart, with half that number backing up under the slash and blast of the enemy. It is hard for us today, over 3,000 years later, in the world we now live in, to imagine the shock those men, women and children, most of whom lived their entire lives without seeing one fight, must have felt at the raw immensity of that carnage. Not one of them faltered. Not one turned back. Not one survived.

By the end of the third day, with citizens arriving now from as far as Ipsolon, five hundred miles away, the invaders had been pushed back into the water, to knee-depth. The bay by now, twenty miles wide, was red with blood from tens of thousands of the dead and dying. The clang and boom had continued for 72 hours without stop, the Antarcticans, with little more than knives and rakes to use, losing twenty or thirty for each invader killed. As the blood drifted out into the ocean, sharks, smelling it in the water, began swimming by the hundreds, then the thousands, into the bay, ripping and rending through the clashing forces.

By the fifth day, the invasion had been stopped, and the great dark ships that had launched the warriors sunk. The invading force has been estimated at 20,000. The Antarcticans lost over 600,000 men, women and children; twenty percent of the entire continent's population at that time. The bones of 620,000 dead, Antarctican and invader mixed, slowly drifted away from the cove, towards deeper waters, where in its vastness it clogged against a shoal offshore. Over the centuries that followed, that briar of bone formed the second largest coral reef in the world, second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Antarcticans call the reef, in English, Red Reef. They have a name for it in bus, but the name is not shared with the outside world. They since have called the bay Red Bay. The name in bus is not shared.

It is difficult to convey the immense respect and gratitude modern Antarcticans feel for these ancestors who fought so fiercely to defend their homeland. It is common for Antarcticans to make a pilgrimage to Mimosa at least once in their lives to stand on the shores of Red Bay, and let some of their own blood dribble into the waters that are now blue again. Some do it every year. Even now, nearly three and a half millennia later, Antarcticans still weep when asked to tell the story of Mimosa.

To commemorate the sacrifice the Mimosans and others made to defend Antarctica, an extraordinary sculpture was begun three thousand years ago on the site of the battle, still added to each year, depicting each of the 20,000 invaders and each of the 600,000 defenders, set as separate life-size statues in the sand and sea, with life-size sculptures of the ships and rowing boats in the harbor. It is an absolutely stunning exhibit, not only for its sheer immensity, but extraordinary detail: one may look into the mouths of any of the 620,000 figures and see a detailed representation of tongue and teeth, and can read from the lips the word spoken when each figure was frozen in art; one may board any of the sculptured ships, walk down into the holds, open a sculptured drawer and find sculptured writing instruments, paper, and wine flasks within.

As a result of the attempted invasion, people from the five main tribes and a dozen of the smaller nomadic tribes met in the ruins of Mimosa to decide what action to take. Before the assembly two questions were considered: Should there be revenge? How do we prevent another tragedy?

Although by that time Antarcticans had traveled through much of the world, they did not recognize the invaders as belonging to any people with whom they were familiar. Because the Antarcticans could not unmistakably identify their invaders, they decided to not seek vengeance, for fear of that vengeance being struck against people who might be innocent. That decision, while the beach and bay were still red, reaffirmed the Antarcticans' commitment to honor, one of their strongest characters as a nation.

The meeting at Mimosa lasted through the Spring, Summer and Fall, and into the Winter. It was the first time all the tribes (including those who arrived later, hearing of the event) had sat down together. It was an opportunity not only to decide how to best protect their homeland in the future, to all their benefit, but also how best to improve that which they were protecting. Finally, after the first of the new year, the tribes decided to unite into one nation, with volunteers overseeing those issues which affected the nation as a whole. It was also decided that even as the nation grew, as the participants knew it would, feeling the energy of cooperation among them, it was important that Antarcticans' relationship with the land itself, and with nature as represented by that land, remain. For that reason, the three Hopes were created, setting aside three vast amounts of the interior of the continent as areas no one would explore, so as to preserve their naturalness, untouched, even unseen by man. These became, of course, Forest Hope, consisting of forest and grasslands, Listen Hope, jungle and marshes, and Mountain Hope, mountains and snowlands.

The day all the tribes agreed to the formation of the nation, January 19, became known afterwards as the 'day of joy'. That government has since ruled uninterrupted for 3,400 years, longer than any other government on earth. Please see Government for more details on how the Antarctican government is structured.

Although most governments are concerned with a concentration of power, the Antarctican government, in true Antarctican fashion, concerned itself with the dissemination of information. By traveling from city to township to outpost, the government volunteers were able to spread knowledge and efficiencies throughout the nation, which in turn led to greater knowledge and improved efficiencies.

To improve the spread of information within Antarctica, and also to better defend it by earlier warnings, the Antarcticans also set about devising a better means to get information quickly to all its citizens. This led first to wider use of birds as carriers of written messages, the practice of which was beforehand limited to the southern coast of the continent, and later, in 800 A.D., to the development of the radio, which in turn brought about, in 1,400 A.D., nin (please see Beliefs), useful not only in preventing any ship (or later, airplane or missile), from getting nearer than 500 miles from the continent, but which also has, since 1,640 A.D., been used to keep pollutants from entering Antarctica's atmosphere Nin proved so successful it eventually, to at least some degree, as evidenced by the information we now have available about the continent and its people, has replaced the concept of the "true" Antarctica (see separate article), previously used as Antarctica's chief defense.

With the development of the radio in 800 A.D., Antarcticans were now able to communicate ideas quickly with each other, and the nation grew rapidly in technology, without ever losing its place in nature. Television came into widespread use in 1340 A.D., a statement which still shocks, of course, demonstrating how effective the concept of the "true" Antarctica has been.

In 1655 A.D., almost three thousand years after the tragedy at Mimosa, Antarcticans decided to venture forth into the outside world again, first by ship, then by air vessels. The outside had never been forgotten, of course. The Antarcticans heading out over the waves for the first time in three millennia were consumed with curiosity as to how the world had developed. They moved easily among the peoples of the world, either in mimicry or using nin. Since then, there has been a growing sentiment within Antarctica that it is time for it to rejoin the world.

In 1913 A.D., Antarticans first allowed others to become aware of the least tangible proof of its existence, its language, bus. In 1991 A.D., after much discussion, the nation decided to gradually emerge into the rest of the world, becoming visible so that all could see the 'true' Antarctica.

This process has continued since. So, you are thinking of visiting Antarctica?

An application for admission to Antarctica may be picked up at any Antarctican embassy, or may be requested from one of the embassies by mail or phone.

The oft-quoted remark, that Antarcticans judge applications based on 'talent and temperament', seems to be true. To be approved for a visit, a person should have some interest in creativity, whether that be the arts, home-decorating, cooking, gardening, software, science or similar pursuits, and should also be what is generally referred to as a 'good person'. There have been many questions asked at conferences about the qualification process, so by way of elaboration, let it be said here that Antarcticans do not expect an applicant to be an accomplished, recognized artist, nor do they expect the applicant to be someone who never loses their temper, never does something foolish, or never feels jealousy or depression. Being in Antarctica in and of itself appears to have a stimulating and soothing effect on people, which Antarcticans realize, so even someone who has not yet spent much time being creative, or who has had a troubled life up to this point, is usually still invited to visit. The truth is, most people who apply to visit Antarctica are accepted. Another question often asked is how detailed the application is. The application is a single sheet of paper, consisting of nine questions. From how these nine questions are answered, Antarcticans can apparently tell whether or not approval of the application would make sense. None of the nine questions concern themselves with the applicant's medical or financial history, or with the applicant's age, gender, race, religious or political beliefs, or sexual orientation.

If you are approved for a visit you will be invited to the nearest embassy at Antarctica's expense for a private lunch, during which time an embassy employee will answer any questions you may have about Antarctica itself, whether philosophical or practical, or about the mechanics of your visit. Visits are generally approved for a one year stay, meaning that if your application has been approved, you will be invited to live in Antarctica for a twelve-month period. During this time you will be free to travel wherever you wish to throughout the continent, although it is customary for no one, including native Antarcticans, to visit the three Hopes, large areas of the interior set aside where wildlife may live untouched and unseen by Man. You will be provided with sufficient funds upon your arrival in Antarctica to live a very comfortable existence during this period (the monies come from contributions made by Antarcticans. You are not expected to pay back any of the amount you spend). At the end of the year, you will be asked if you would like to remain in Antarctica, or if you would prefer to leave. If you choose to return, your airflight home is also paid for, and assistance is provided, financial and otherwise, in helping you obtain employment similar to the employment you had prior to your visit. In most cases, shorter visits (a weekend, a week) are not encouraged, because it is felt it is just not possible to experience Antarctica in so short a time. If you are invited to Antarctica, it is not an invitation to be photographed alongside several famous sites and then depart; it is an invitation to consider a different land in which to live.

Once the details of the visit are set, it is up to you to make arrangements to arrive at one of the several departure points around the world where air travel to Antarctica is established (as of this writing, current points of departure are Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; London, England; Hong Kong, China; Sydney, Australia; and Brazzaville, Congo). You must pay the expense of traveling to the point of departure; there is no charge for the flight from the point of departure to Antarctica.

At the point of departure, you and your belongings will be screened briefly and painlessly with a handheld device which operates on sound waves and is used to make certain there are no insects, seeds, bacteria, etc. present which might otherwise inadvertently make their way to the continent. This procedure lasts a moment only, and is done with you fully dressed, suitcases left closed, and any film you may be carrying undamaged. For the record, your physical person is not searched, nor are any of your belongings. Antarcticans are strong believers in a right to privacy.

You will likely share the transcontinental flyer taking you to Antarctica with a half dozen or so other people also about to experience living in Antarctica.

All new visitors arrive in Delphia, located on the southern coast of the continent. Each person, couple or family is greeted by an Antarctican who has volunteered to help visitors orient themselves in this new land.

The most commonly reported reaction people have visiting Antarctica for the first time is a sense of exhilaration. Visitors speak of the beauty of the land, the purity of the sky, the freshness of the air, the atmosphere of freedom and privacy, the contagious sense of peace and joy among the people. This exhilaration begins when you leave the terminal at which you arrived and behold your first glimpse of Antarctican life, the city of Delphia.

Delphia is built along a series of beautiful blue and emerald bays, crystal clear to a depth of 1,000 feet, its tree-lined blocks filled with parks, rivers and pastel and granite buildings, the tallest of which is twenty stories. Brightly colored hot air balloons float silently above the city, often late into the evening; walking home along the canals from a midnight meal with friends, you may be able to hear, in the sky, the occasional murmur of conversation and laughter. Although you are free to do whatever you wish as soon as you disembark from the transcontinental flyer, visitors are strongly urged to spend their first day in Antarctica locating a residence, because of the physical adjustment most visitors go through their first twenty-four hours in Antarctica. Your volunteer guide will fly you to a number of sites he or she thinks would enchant you based on talking to you: this may be a glass and stone suite located atop one of the City's modest towers, overlooking the bays, or a small townhome deep within one of the many lively neighborhood sections, or a quiet cottage off by itself on one of the many cliffs overlooking the ocean. You are welcome to change your residence as often as you prefer, although many people grow attached to the home they first chose, their first day on the continent.

As alluded to, nearly all visitors to Antarctica go through a brief period of physical adjustment when they first arrive on the continent. A few hours after landing, and by then in their own, newly-selected home, visitors are likely to experience a hoarseness of voice, accompanied by a sense of fatigue and, often, mild diarrhea. Some of these symptoms may be psychological, of course, but it is believed they are in large measure the result, ironically, of breathing unpolluted air, drinking pure water, and eating nontoxic food. This period of adjustment lasts from twelve to twenty-four hours, and then does not return. To cope with it, most first-time visitors spend their first day in bed, talking, watching local television, drifting in and out of sleep, snacking on any of a wide variety of foods which can be delivered to their home (home delivery of food and other products is much more common in Antarctica than it is elsewhere. Nearly any type of food can be home-delivered. Most people report the meals they receive through home delivery are of a higher quality, and far more delicious, than restaurant meals they've eaten elsewhere in the world.) As has been mentioned in another section, Antarcticans, for whatever reason, maintain their ideal weight no matter how much food they consume, or the type of food. Western nutritionists have been curious to see if non-Antarcticans visting the continent would experience this same effect, and although it is still too early to draw any definitive conclusions, it does apppear that visitors may also consume large quantities of food without gaining weight, and in fact will often lose weight regardless of the amount of food they eat, until they, too, are at their ideal weight. Whether this phenomenon is caused by the food itself, or the water, or something else, is not known at this time.

Once the initial period of physical adjustment ends, you will find yourself with much more energy than ever before, and a strong sense of well-being.

You are now ready to start exploring.

Your guide will show you first how to operate a flyer, the chief means of private transport in Antarctica.

Flyers come in different sizes, but most are built to accommodate two to four adults. The typical flyer is slightly larger than an automobile, and is sometimes described as looking like an "upside-down boat". Although flyers have tires which can be lowered for road travel, they are most often, as their name implies, used for air travel from one location to another.

Visitors often express some trepidation initially at using a flyer, believing them to be dangerous, but in fact in the four hundred years of their use, there has never once been a fatality from a flyer. This is in large part because unlike a car, where the owner is the operator, a flyer operates automatically, based on the instructions you give it. Flyers have no steering wheels or manual controls.

Antarcticans tend to develop a great deal of affection for their flyer, much like people elsewhere in the world do towards their automobiles. A flyer is virtually indestructible, comes on a moment's notice when called, and will wait patiently for you wherever you are. Flyers make use of artificial intelligence technology, which Antarcticans refer to as "self-generated filtering", so that they can carry on intelligent conversations with you to a remarkable degree, and have access to the full range of data available on the Antarctican Internet.

While on the subject of flyers, we should spend a little time discussing travel in general.

As you will notice during your stay in Delphia, Antarctican cities do not have any streets. Delphia, like most Antarctican cities, is laid out like an immense park, with buildings clustered throughout the trees, lakes and rivers, joined to each other, depending on the area of the city, by pedestrian boulevards, bridges, garden walkways, or grassy paths. For this reason, when using a flyer within the city, your flyer will transport you to the "park pad" nearest your destination (park pads are scattered unobtrusively throughout the cities). It is then a short walk to where you wish to go, or you may use a trolley. Automated trolleys run on rails throughout the cities, and can take you from your flyer to your specific destinaton, and from there to another store or restaurant you wish to visit, or return you to your flyer. Although most people use their flyers to travel by air from one city to another, there are two-lane highways winding along the coast all around the continent for those who wish to travel by road, at which point the flyer's tires are used. Flyers are powered based on the slow molecular decomposition of certain metals. A thick sheet of this energy source, roughly six inches by six inches, lasts for approximately 100,000 miles. The sheets themselves are inexpensive.

After a week or so in Delphia, most visitors start exploring the continent, a journey that normally lasts several months. Many visitors, half-way through the first year, will return to whichever residence they have decided to call home in Antarctica, to get more of a feel for the day-to-day experience of living in Antarctica, shopping in the local stores, planting a garden, visiting the neighborhood restaurants, museums, and theaters. People often talk of this period as a time when they feel great inner peace, and physical well-being. There is a tendency to read more, to go on long walks in the woods and along the shores, to explore the quiet valleys, to picnic alongside the rivers, to paint outdoors.

As your first year in Antarctica comes to a close, you will be asked if you'd like to stay, or if you want to leave (you are, of course, free to leave at any point, even after the first day, but most people appreciate having a full year to make up their mind).

If you do stay, your guide or a number of volunteer associations will help you find a job, if you would like one. As stated elsewhere (please see People), because of the low cost of living in Antarctica, Antarcticans generally work only four months out of each year, and only three days a week. The rest of their time is spent pursuing their own interests. Working for money plays a very small role in Antarcticans' lives.

Antarctica is a dream destination for many travelers. It's unique and spectacularly beautiful, with amazing wildlife, towering mountains, and icebergs larger than many cruise ships. About 20,000 people visit the White Continent each year, with most arriving at the Antarctica Peninsula via cruise ship from South America. Despite its attraction, most people either have misconceptions or things they didn't know about Antarctica. If you are planning a cruise to Antarctica, it's good to start with some basic knowledge of Antarctic cruises.

   01 of 18
   Size Matters on an Antarctica Cruise
   Hurtigruten MS Midnatsol in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   About 50 ships of all sizes visit Antarctic waters each year. These ships range in size from tiny expedition ships with less than 25 guests to traditional cruise ships with over 1000 guests. It's important to know that if a ship has more than 500 guests onboard, the signers of the Antarctic Treaty and members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators do not let those guests go ashore. Instead, they have an "Antarctic experience", which means they sail around the islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, allowing guests to see the continent and wildlife from the decks. One of these cruises can provide an excellent overview, but many who visit Antarctica want to step on the continent. 
   Although a tiny ship can provide an amazing experience, many expedition ships are very pricey but offer a once-in-a-lifetime voyage for those who can afford the best. The less expensive small ships might not be a good choice for those who are seasick-prone or who want to have more onboard amenities, better expedition leaders, and more variety in food. Ships with 300-450 guests are often less expensive but still offer excellent food and comfortable cabins and common areas.
   For example, ships like the MS Misnatsol of Hurtigruten are an excellent Antarctica cruise alternative--not too big, not too small, and not as pricey as the smaller expedition ships. Although the Midnatsol carries less than 500 guests on its Antarctic cruises, it carries more than 500 cruise guests and many ferry passengers on its summer cruises of Norway's coast, so its space per guest is exceptional on Antarctic cruises. Since the Hurtigruten ship also carries ferry passengers and vehicles in the summer, it has large public areas and plenty of space to store kayaks and Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) for its winter expeditions. Its size makes the ship more stable than some of the other ships carrying less than 500 passengers. Since it's an ice class 1X ship, the Midnatsol is well-prepared to sail in Antarctic waters.
   02 of 18
   Yes, You Can Go Swimming in Antarctica
   Swimming in Antarctica from the Hurtigruten Midnatsol
   Linda Garrison
   Be sure to take along a swimsuit to Antarctica. Hardcore, thick-blooded northerners might not consider it "swimming", but Antarctic cruise travelers often have the opportunity to take a short dip in the icy (usually right at freezing temperatures) waters of Antarctica.
   Hurtigruten and some other cruise lines offer "swimming" at almost every stop. Ships who allow guests to swim at only one port offer it at Deception Island since the water is warmer due to volcanic activity. 
   On Hurtigruten cruises, all guests who go swimming get a certificate and their photo taken. Due to peer pressure, sometimes more than 50 guests will take the plunge.
   If you think swimming in icy waters is crazy, then you can wear that swimsuit into the hot tub, sauna, or spa.
   03 of 18
   You Can Exercise on Some Ships
   Fitness Center on the Hurtigruten MS Midnatsol
   Jonathan Howe/Two Monkeys Travel
   Many cruise travelers worry about not being able to get enough exercise on an Antarctic cruise. Since IAATO and the Antarctic Treaty limit the time and number of visitors ashore, you will have more ship time than on many other destination-immersive cruises. 
   Smaller ships often either have no fitness center or have a very tiny one. However, you might have more time ashore, but not enough for true exercise fanatics. Larger ships like the Hurtigruten Midnatsol often have saunas, exercise equipment, and views you won't get anywhere else in the world. Larger ships also often have promenade decks or an outdoor walking track for guests to exercise outdoors.
   04 of 18
   Yes, You Can Go Kayaking in the Calm Waters of Antarctica
   Kayaking in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Swimming in Antarctica might not be for everyone, but kayaking is another fun activity. The coastal waters are often calm, and kayakers can see icebergs and wildlife such as penguins, seals, and whales.
   Ships like the Hurtigruten Midnatsol provide appropriate outerwear for its kayakers to borrow.
   05 of 18
   You Can Mail a Postcard Home and Get Your Passport Stamped
   Port Lockroy on Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Some cruise travelers love to shop for souvenirs, and they love to send postcards back home. Shopping is limited to onboard the ship and at a few research stations like Port Lockroy, which is a UK historical site. (Note: Adventurous souls can also spend the summer working at Port Lockroy if they can qualify and pass the interview.)
   The staff at Port Lockroy comes onboard cruise ships and talk about their experiences working at the research station. They also stamp passports and sell souvenirs and postcards and/or stamps.
   Be sure to date any postcard you mail back home. A supply ship picks up the postcards at Port Lockroy and takes them to the Falkland Islands. From there, they go to the UK before coming back across the Atlantic to the USA. It takes about 6-7 weeks to reach the UK and another week to reach the USA. Your friends and family will love getting a postcard with an Antarctic stamp (almost as much as you'll love having an Antarctic stamp in your passport!)
   06 of 18
   Antarctica Is Warmer Than You Think
   Damoy Point, Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Having heard the horror stories of Antarctic winters, many travelers think the temperatures are way below what they are willing to tolerate. Cruise ships only visit Antarctica between November and March, which is the Austral summer.
   Since cruise ships primarily visit the Antarctica Peninsula, which is the northernmost section of the continent, temperatures are even warmer than further south. The Austral summer temperatures on the Peninsula range from the high 20's to mid-30's (Fahrenheit) or -2 to 2 degrees Centigrade. Those arriving from northern North America know that it's much colder there in January.
   Winds can make it feel colder, but when you are ashore and moving about, sometimes you even get too warm! Cruise ships usually provide warm boots and some type of waterproof jacket, but be sure to check your cruise documents carefully. Long underwear, hat, and gloves are needed when riding in the RIBs ashore. For example, Hurtigruten provides the warmest boots you'll ever find, so you don't need to pack any. However, it's branded jacket is wind and waterproof, but you'll need something warmer (like a puffy jacket) underneath.
   07 of 18
   Cruise Timing Makes a Difference
   Penguins on the nest in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Travelers can always have a memorable experience on an Antarctic cruise. However, like many parts of the world, the dates you select for Antarctic cruise provide different experiences. You'll see more snow in November and December (although you'll see plenty on all Antarctic cruises). Penguins will be on their nests in December, but you'll see baby chicks in January and February.  Early and late shoulder seasons (November/December/March) cruises might be less expensive than in the high season of late January and February when the weather is warmer.
   08 of 18
   Cruise Ships Don't Sail as Far South as the Antarctic Circle
   Lemaire Chanel from the Hurtigruten Midnatsol
   Linda Garrison
   Those who have traveled to the Arctic know that many cruise ships sail further north than the Arctic Circle (66 degrees 33 minutes 39 seconds north latitude) in the summer, with some ships even crossing the famous Northwest Passage linking the northern Atlantic and Alaska or the Northeast Passage linking Norway with the Pacific Ocean. Hurtigruten even sails its Norwegian coastal voyages year-round all the way north from Bergen to Kirkenes, which is over 69 degrees north latitude.
   Many think ships sailing south to Antarctic in the Austral summer can also reach the Antarctic Circle, which is 66 degrees 33 minutes 39 seconds south latitude. However, the Antarctic does not feature the warming waters of the Gulf Stream, the land mass of the continent keeps it generally colder than the Arctic, and huge icebergs often clog up passages between the islands and/or continent. Cruise ships can usually get to 65+ degrees latitude, but going further is difficult.
   If crossing the Antarctic Circle is on your wish list, book a small expedition ship later in the season (February or March) that includes this crossing on its planned itinerary. Smaller ships can navigate through the narrow Lemaire Channel when the smaller icebergs have melted.
   09 of 18
   Penguins Are Even Cuter Than Expected
   Gentoo penguins in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Everyone loves penguins, and Antarctica is the only place you can see them in the snow. Six of the seventeen species of penguins are found in Antarctic waters, and most cruise travelers see at least three of those species. Watching the penguins (who could care less about you) waddling, swimming, nesting, interacting with their peers or mates, or just doing their everyday activities can keep most cruise travelers mesmerized for as long as time allows. It may be difficult to believe that they are cuter in their natural habitat than expected, but it's true. 
   10 of 18
   You'll See More Than Penguins in Antarctica: Seals
   Crabeater seal in Neko Harbor, Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Although penguins are usually seen as the 5-star wildlife of Antarctica, most travelers also see several varieties of seals. These lovely creatures are often stretched out on icebergs or lying in the sun. Don't get too close to them, but it's fun to watch them stretch and roll as they nap. Like the penguins, seals are much more agile in the water than on the land.
   One animal you won't see in Antarctica is a polar bear. These magnificent hunters are only found in the Arctic polar regions. The largest land-only animal in Antarctica is a tiny insect called the Antarctic midge. If you are lucky on your voyage to Antarctica, you might see one of these, but only if one of the naturalists points it out.
   11 of 18
   You'll See More than Penguins in Antarctica: Whales
   Whales in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   It's difficult to beat the number of whales seen on many Alaska cruises, but some humpbacks and other whales migrate to Antarctica for the Austral summer. Travelers from around the world never get tired of watching these giants feed or just cruise around a bay.
   12 of 18
   Cruise Ship Food Can Be Good, Even After Two Weeks Without Replenishment
   Reindeer carpaccio with mountain lingonberries on the Hurtigruten Midnatsol
   Linda Garrison

   Cruise ships cannot take on food or other supplies in Antarctica. They must carry enough food for the guests and the crew to last for two or more weeks. However, cruise ships know that guests have high expectations for the food and all seem to deliver the same quality found on cruise ships elsewhere in the world. For example, Hurtigruten serves amazing fish dishes in its dining venues but also features delightful delicacies like this reindeer carpaccio appetizer.

   Continue to 13 of 18 below.
   13 of 18
   Icebergs Are Bigger and More Plentiful Than Imagined
   Giant iceberg in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Travelers who have seen the icebergs in Antarctica agree they are massive and magnificent. Those who go to Antarctica in the early season might see larger ones than those who go later in the Austral summer. The behemoth seen in the photo at the left was several stories high.
   14 of 18
   One Island Features Warm Soil, Volcanic Activity, and Whale Bones
   Deception Island in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Many travelers going to Antarctica are surprised to learn that Deception Island is an active volcano. As seen in this photo, it is not snow covered in many places since the surface is warm from the underground volcanic activity. The island is shaped like a crescent (much like Santorini in Greece), so the large natural caldera was perfect for whaling ships to seek shelter and process the whales. Visitors can still see the remains of the ancient whaling station.
   15 of 18
   You Can Never Photograph Too Many Penguins, But They Do Stink!
   Gentoo penguin in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Many who travel to Antarctica for the first time often think that after they've seen a few penguins, it will be enough. However, they seem to get cuter and cuter as the days go by.
   One surprising factor is how awful a penguin colony can smell. If you've ever been in a chicken house, it's a similar odor. After a while, you'll be overwhelmed by their appearance and antics and forget how bad they smell. One good thing--the odor will prevent you from trying to smuggle one back home as a pet.
   16 of 18
   You Might Not Get Seasick
   Cruising in Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   Seasickness is the elephant in the room that's always a worry for those planning a cruise to Antarctica. Ships take at least 36-48 hours to sail across the Drake Passage that separates South America from the Shetland Islands off the coast of Antarctica. And, they have to return back to South America, which takes another couple of days. This Passage is well-known for its rough seas, and it can be awful. However, sometimes it can be the "Drake Lake"--very calm and peaceful.
   Everyone who travels to Antarctica should pack some type of seasickness medicine in their suitcase. Once your ship gets near Antarctica, the sea usually becomes calmer, but even 48 hours of misery is too long. On the plus side, even those who've been seasick remember the wildlife and majestic scenery of Antarctica when they get home, not their mal de mer.
   Continue to 17 of 18 below.
   17 of 18
   Antarctica Is More Spectacular Than You Ever Imagined
   Damoy Hut on Damoy Point, a UK Antarctic Heritage Trust Site
   Linda Garrison
   Those who love wildlife, photography, and unique, magnificent scenery will definitely appreciate all Antarctica has to offer. However, travelers who love history and stories of great explorers will also have a better understanding of how this continent has attracted adventurous men (and women). 
   18 of 18
   You'll Come Away From Antarctica With Lifelong Memories
   Penguin headed for the sea at Half Moon Island, Antarctica
   Linda Garrison
   If you plan a cruise to Antarctica, you'll find it is much like other exotic places in the world--it gives you lifelong memories. The difference between Antarctica and other memorable places is that there's no local culture or people--all those memories are the result of the majesty and wildness of the White Continent. 
   As you sail away from Antarctica, think about how many times the penguin in this photo must go up and down this hill to feed its young in the nest. Daily challenges like these make our problems back home seem not quite as difficult.

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Tourism in Antarctica started by the sea in the 1960s. Air overflights of Antarctica started in the 1970s with sightseeing flights by airliners from Australia and New Zealand, and were resumed in the 1990s. The (summer) tour season lasts from November to March. Most of the estimated 14,762 visitors to Antarctica in 1999-2000 were on sea cruises.[1] During the 2009 to 2010 tourist season, over 37,000 people visited Antarctica. Contents

   1 Landing in Antarctica
   2 Sea cruises
   3 Scenic flights
   4 Yachting
   5 Land activities
   6 Regulations
   7 See also
   8 References
       8.1 Notes
       8.2 Yachting references
   9 External links

Landing in Antarctica

Tourism companies are required by the Antarctic Treaty to have a permit to visit Antarctica.[2] Many sea cruises by cruise ships include a landing by RIB (Zodiac) or helicopter. Some land visits may include mountaineering, skiing or even a visit to the South Pole.[1] Sea cruises The expedition ship National Geographic Explorer

During the 1920s, a Falkland Islands mail ship, the SS Fleurus, made annual trips to the South Shetland Islands and South Orkney Islands to serve whaling and sealing stations there. It carried a small number of commercial passengers, and marketed round-trip "tourist tickets"; these were probably the first commercial tourists to sail to Antarctica.[3]

Modern expedition cruising was pioneered by Lars-Eric Lindblad; in 1969, he launched the MS Lindblad Explorer, a purpose-built liner.[4] Many of the sea cruises leave from Ushuaia in Argentina. Sea cruises generally last anywhere between 10 days and 3 weeks and costs start from around US$6,000 per person for shared accommodation cabins.[citation needed]

There are limited sea cruises to the Ross Sea and East Antarctic (Commonwealth Bay) regions of Antarctica. The New Zealand expedition travel company Heritage Expeditions operates its own ice-strengthened polar research vessel the 'Spirit of Enderby' to these regions several times a year.

Occasionally, very large cruise vessels have visited Antarctica carrying over 950 people. These vessels are usually cruise based and offer no landings. However, in 2009, new regulations were enforced that stopped large vessels from operating in Antarctic waters due to their heavier fuel oils. Ships normally can only land 100 people at a time and those that carry over 500 people are not allowed to land anyone. Scenic flights A Basler BT-67 owned by Antarctic Logistics Centre International and used for tourist flights in Antarctica, at the South Pole in December 2009

Most scenic flights to Antarctica have been organised from Australia and New Zealand, with airlines from both countries commencing flights in February 1977. The majority of the flights are simple return trips, and in no cases have they landed in Antarctica.

Air New Zealand's first scenic flight took place on 15 February 1977 and was followed by five more that year, then four each in 1978 and 1979. The flights were operated with McDonnell-Douglas DC-10s and departed from Auckland, flying over Ross Island to McMurdo Sound before returning to Auckland with a fuel stop in Christchurch. Later flights flew down the middle of the Sound and over Scott Base rather than over Ross Island as the aircraft could descend to a low altitude to provide better visibility for passengers[note 1]. Many flights carried experienced Antarctic researchers as guides, including on at least one occasion Sir Edmund Hillary, and lasted roughly 12 hours with approximately four of them over or near the Antarctic mainland. Air New Zealand cancelled and never resumed their Antarctic flying programme in the aftermath of the TE901[note 2] disaster, where a route planning error lead to the aircraft crashing into Mount Erebus on 28 November 1979 with the loss of all 257 lives aboard.

Qantas operated its first Antarctic flight on 13 February 1977, a charter organised by Sydney entrepreneur Dick Smith. By 1979 twenty-seven flights had carried more than 7,000 passengers. Most used Boeing 747-200Bs and flew from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth on one of two “ice” routes. One went along the coast of George V Land to the French base in Adele Land then back over the South Magnetic Pole. The other went over Oates Land and northern Victoria Land to Cape Washington in the Ross Dependency. In 1977 one flight duplicated Air New Zealand's routing and overflew McMurdo Sound and Mount Erebus. Some shorter flights from Melbourne were also operated by Boeing 707s.[6] Qantas also cancelled its Antarctic programme after the TE901 disaster but eventually resumed it in 1994, and continues to operate charter flights in summer from Sydney, Perth and Melbourne to this day with Boeing 747-400s.

There have also been earlier scenic overflights, including some from Chile in 1958.[4] Yachting

There were private yacht voyages in the Southern Ocean from the late 1960s, with some circumnavigations of Antarctica e.g. by David Henry Lewis in 1972.[7]

There are now about 30 yachts each year visiting the Antarctic Peninsula, which is in the warmer “banana belt.”[clarify] Many four-day cruises leave from Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, others from Ushuaia or Stanley.

Only smaller vessels are allowed to bring their crew ashore. Sailing to Antarctica is the cleanest way to experience the place. Land activities

Land activities include camping, hiking and cross country skiing. These activities have become especially popular in recent times, as suggested by the increased number of tourists that come to visit Antarctica. Regulations

The Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty does not specifically address tourism, but its provisions go some way to minimising the adverse impacts of tourists because, once ratified, the protocol is legally binding over all visitors to the Antarctic, whether on government or private trips.

In 1994 the Treaty countries made further recommendations on tourism and non-government activities. This "Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic" is intended to help visitors become aware of their responsibilities under the treaty and protocol. The document concerns the protection of Antarctic wildlife and protected areas, the respecting of scientific research, personal safety and impact on the environment. Guidelines have also been written for the organisers of tourist and private ventures - these require prior notification of the trip to the organiser's national authority (e.g. Antarctica NZ), assessment of potential environmental impacts, the ability to cope with environmental emergencies such as oil spills, self-sufficiency, the proper disposal of wastes and respect for the Antarctic environment and research activities. The guidelines outline detailed procedures to be followed during the planning of the trip, when in the Antarctic Treaty area and on completion of the trip.

Tourist operators in Antarctica have organised an association (the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) to promote safety and environmental responsibility amongst cruise operators. The members of this association carry the majority of tourists to Antarctica.

Individual countries have also introduced measures to minimise effects of tourists. Chile requires all captains of ships that go to Antarctica to attend a month-long school in Antarctic navigation. New Zealand sends a government representative on all ships visiting the Ross Dependency to supervise visits to the historic huts and Scott Base and to observe how well the provisions of the treaty and protocol are adhered to. In 2008, the South Korean government passed a law prohibiting Korean passport-holders from visiting Antarctica.[8]

Even with reduced impact per visitor, the increasing number of visitors could still have a considerable effect on the environment. Monitoring of impacts at specific sites can be used to determine whether tourists should be allowed to continue to visit a particular area. Although visits are usually short, they are concentrated into a small number of landing sites and have the potential to destroy parts of a unique environment and to jeopardize scientific research.

There are seven sovereign states who have territorial claims in Antarctica: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. These countries have tended to place their Antarctic scientific observation and study facilities within their respective claimed territories; however, a number of such facilities are located outside of the area claimed by their respective countries of operation, and countries without claims such as Russia and the United States have constructed research facilities within the areas claimed by other countries. Contents

   1 History
       1.1 Spanish claims
       1.2 British claims
       1.3 Other European claims
       1.4 South American involvement
       1.5 Postwar developments
       1.6 Towards an international treaty
   2 Antarctic territorial claims
       2.1 Official claims
       2.2 Overlapping claims
       2.3 Unclaimed
       2.4 Possible future claims
   3 Antarctic Treaty
   4 See also
   5 Notes
   6 References

History Spanish claims

According to Argentina and Chile, the Spanish Empire had claims on Antarctica. The capitulación (governorship) granted to the conquistador Pedro Sánchez de la Hoz explicitly included all lands south of the Straits of Magellan (Terra Australis, and Tierra del Fuego and by extension the entire continent of Antarctica). This grant established, according to Argentina and Chile, that an animus occupandi existed on the part of Spain in Antarctica. Spain's sovereignty claim over parts of Antarctica was, according to Chile and Argentina, internationally recognized with the Inter caetera bull of 1493 and the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. Argentina and Chile treat these treaties as legal international treaties mediated by the Catholic Church that was at that time a recognized arbiter in such matters.[1] Each country currently has claim a sector of the Antarctic continent that is more or less directly south of its national antarctic-facing lands. British claims As Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, Leopold Amery aimed to assert British sovereignty over the entire continent of Antarctica.

The United Kingdom reasserted sovereignty over the Falkland Islands in the far South Atlantic in 1833 and maintained a continuous presence there. In 1908, the British government extended its territorial claim by declaring sovereignty over "South Georgia, the South Orkneys, the South Shetlands, and the (South) Sandwich Islands, and Graham's Land, situated in the South Atlantic Ocean and on the Antarctic continent to the south of the 50th parallel of south latitude, and lying between the 20th and the 80th degrees of west longitude".[2] All these territories were administered as Falkland Islands Dependencies from Stanley by the Governor of the Falkland Islands. The motivation for this declaration lay in the need to regulate and tax the whaling industry effectively. Commercial operators would hunt whales in areas outside the official boundaries of the Falkland Islands and its dependencies, and there was a need to close this loophole.

In 1917, the wording of the claim was modified, so as to unambiguously include all the territory in the sector stretching to the South Pole (thus encompassing all the present British Antarctic Territory). The new claim covered "all islands and territories whatsoever between the 20th degree of west longitude and the 50th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 50th parallel of south latitude; and all islands and territories whatsoever between the 50th degree of west longitude and the 80th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 58th parallel of south latitude".[2]

It was the ambition of Leopold Amery, then Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, that Britain incorporate the entire continent into the Empire. In a memorandum to the governors-general for Australia and New Zealand, he wrote that 'with the exception of Chile and Argentina and some barren islands belonging to France... it is desirable that the whole of the Antarctic should ultimately be included in the British Empire.' The first step was taken on 30 July 1923, when the British government passed an Order in Council under the British Settlements Act 1887, defining the new borders for the Ross Dependency—"that part of His Majesty's Dominions in the Antarctic Seas, which comprises all the islands and territories between the 160th degree of East Longitude and the 150th degree of West Longitude which are situated south of the 60th degree of South Latitude shall be named the Ross Dependency." The Order in Council then went on to appoint the Governor-General and Commander-in Chief of New Zealand as the Governor of the territory.[3]

In 1930, the United Kingdom claimed Enderby Land. In 1933, a British imperial order transferred territory south of 60° S and between meridians 160° E and 45° E to Australia as the Australian Antarctic Territory.[4][5]

Following the passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, the government of the United Kingdom relinquished all control over the government of New Zealand and Australia. This however had no bearing on the obligations of the governors-general of both countries in their capacity as Governors of the Antarctic territories. Other European claims Discovery and claim of French sovereignty on Adélie Land by Jules Dumont d'Urville, in 1840.

The basis for the claim to Adélie Land by France depended on the discovery of the coastline in 1840 by the French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville, who named it after his wife, Adèle.[6]. He erected the French flag and took possession of the land for France, on January 21, 1840 at 5:30 PM.[7]

The British eventually decided to recognize this claim, and the border between Adélie Land and the Australian Antarctic Territory was fixed definitively in 1938.[8]

These developments also concerned Norwegian whaling interests, which wished to avoid British taxation of whaling stations in the Antarctic and felt concerns that they would be commercially excluded from the continent. The whale-ship owner Lars Christensen financed several expeditions to the Antarctic with the view to claiming land for Norway and to establishing stations on Norwegian territory to gain better privileges.[9] The first expedition, led by Nils Larsen and Ola Olstad, landed on Peter I Island in 1929 and claimed the island for Norway. On 6 March 1931 a Norwegian royal proclamation declared the island under Norwegian sovereignty[9] and on 23 March 1933 the island was declared a dependency.[10][note 1]

The 1929 expedition led by Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen and Finn Lützow-Holm named the continental landmass near the island as Queen Maud Land after the Norwegian queen Maud of Wales.[11] The territory was explored further during the Norvegia expedition of 1930–31.[12] Negotiations with the British government in 1938 resulted in setting the western border of Queen Maud Land at 20°W.[12] Norwegian expedition landing on Peter I Island island in 1929.

The United States, Chile, the Soviet Union and Germany disputed Norway's claim.[13][14] In 1938 Germany dispatched the German Antarctic Expedition, led by Alfred Ritscher, to fly over as much of it as possible.[12] The ship Schwabenland reached the pack ice off Antarctica on 19 January 1939.[15] During the expedition, Ritscher photographed an area of about 350,000 square kilometres (140,000 sq mi) from the air[16] and dropped darts inscribed with swastikas every 26 kilometres (16 mi). However, despite intensively surveying the land, Germany never made any formal claim or constructed any lasting bases.[17]

On 14 January 1939, five days before the German arrival, Norway annexed Queen Maud Land[11] after a royal decree announced that the land bordering the Falkland Islands Dependencies in the west and the Australian Antarctic Dependency in the east was to be brought under Norwegian sovereignty.[12] The primary aim of the annexation was to secure the Norwegian whaling industry's access to the region.[11][18] In 1948 Norway and the United Kingdom agreed to limit Queen Maud Land to from 20°W to 45°E, and to incorporate the Bruce Coast and Coats Land into Norwegian territory.[12] South American involvement Omond House was built in 1904 by the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition as the first permanent base in Antarctica. It was later sold to Argentina.

Upon independence in the early 19th century South American nations based their boundaries upon the uti possidetis iuris principle. This meant there was no land without a sovereign. Chile and Argentina applied this to Antarctica citing the Inter caetera bull of 1493 and the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. Argentina and Chile treat these treaties as legal international treaties mediated by the Catholic Church that was in that time a recognized arbiter in these matters.[1]

This encroachment of foreign powers was a matter of immense disquiet to the nearby South American countries, Argentina and Chile. Taking advantage of a European continent plunged into turmoil with the onset of the Second World War, Chile's president, Pedro Aguirre Cerda declared the establishment of a Chilean Antarctic Territory in areas already claimed by Britain.

Argentina has a long history in the area,[19] In 1904 the Argentine government began a permanent occupation in one of the Antarctic islands with the purchase of a meteorological station on Laurie Island established in 1903 by Dr William S. Bruce's Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. Bruce offered to transfer the station and instruments for the sum of 5.000 pesos, on the condition that the government committed itself to the continuation of the scientific mission.[20] British officer William Haggard also sent a note to the Argentine Foreign Minister, José Terry, ratifying the terms of Bruce proposition.[20]

In 1906, Argentina communicated to the international community the establishment of a permanent base on South Orkney Islands, the Orcadas Base. However, Haggard responded by reminding Argentina that the South Orkneys were British. The British position was that Argentine personnel was granted permission only for the period of one year. The Argentine government entered into negotiations with the British in 1913 over the possible transfer of the island. Although these talks were unsuccessful, Argentina attempted to unilaterally establish their sovereignty with the erection of markers, national flags and other symbols. [21] Finally, with British attention elsewhere, Argentina declared the establishment of Argentine Antarctica in 1943, claiming territory in the continent itself, and not just islands, and it overlapped with British ( 20°W to 80°W) and the earlier Chilean (53°W to 90°W) claims.

In response to this and earlier German explorations, the British Admiralty and Colonial Office launched Operation Tabarin in 1943 to reassert British territorial claims against Argentinian and Chilean incursion and establish a permanent British presence in the Antarctic.[22] The move was also motivated by concerns within the Foreign Office about the direction of United States post-war activity in the region.

A suitable cover story was the need to deny use of the area to the enemy. The Kriegsmarine was known to use remote islands as rendezvous points and as shelters for commerce raiders, U-boats and supply ships. Also, in 1941, there existed a fear that Japan might attempt to seize the Falkland Islands, either as a base or to hand them over to Argentina, thus gaining political advantage for the Axis and denying their use to Britain.

In 1943, British personnel from HMS Carnarvon Castle[23] removed Argentine flags from Deception Island. The expedition was led by Lieutenant James Marr and left the Falkland Islands in two ships, HMS William Scoresby (a minesweeping trawler) and Fitzroy, on Saturday January 29, 1944.

Bases were established during February near the abandoned Norwegian whaling station on Deception Island, where the Union Flag was hoisted in place of Argentine flags, and at Port Lockroy (on February 11) on the coast of Graham Land. A further base was founded at Hope Bay on February 13, 1945, after a failed attempt to unload stores on February 7, 1944. Symbols of British sovereignty, including post offices, signposts and plaques were also constructed and postage stamps were issued.

Operation Tabarin provoked Chile to organise its First Chilean Antarctic Expedition in 1947–48, where the Chilean president Gabriel González Videla personally inaugurated one of its bases.[24]

Following the end of the war in 1945, the British bases were handed over to civilian members of the newly created Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (subsequently the British Antarctic Survey) the first such national scientific body to be established in Antarctica. Postwar developments Hut built at Hope Bay in 1903. It was there that the only instance of shots fired in anger on the Continent occurred in 1952.

Friction between Britain and the Latin American states continued into the postwar period. Royal Navy warships were dispatched in 1948 to prevent naval incursions. The only instance of shots fired in anger on Antarctica occurred in 1952 at Hope Bay, when staff at British Base "D" (established 1945) came up against the Argentine team at Esperanza Base (est. 1952), who fired a machine gun over the heads of a British Antarctic Survey team unloading supplies from the John Biscoe. The Argentines later extended a diplomatic apology, saying that there had been a misunderstanding and that the Argentine military commander on the ground had exceeded his authority.

The United States became politically interested in the Antarctic continent before and during WWII. The United States Antarctic Service Expedition, from 1939-1941, was sponsored by the government with additional support from donations and gifts by private citizens, corporations and institutions. The objective of the Expedition, outlined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was to establish two bases: East Base, in the vicinity of Charcot Island, and West Base, in the vicinity of King Edward VII Land. After operating successfully for two years, but with international tensions on the rise, it was considered wise to evacuate the two bases.[25] However, immediately after the war, American interest was rekindled with an explicitly geopolitical motive. Operation Highjump, from 1946-1947 was organised by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd Jr. and included 4,700 men, 13 ships, and multiple aircraft. The primary mission of Operation Highjump was to establish the Antarctic research base Little America IV,[26] for the purpose of training personnel and testing equipment in frigid conditions and amplifying existing stores of knowledge of hydrographic, geographic, geological, meteorological and electromagnetic propagation conditions in the area. The mission was also aimed at consolidating and extending United States sovereignty over the largest practicable area of the Antarctic continent, although this was publicly denied as a goal even before the expedition ended. Towards an international treaty The International Geophysical Year was pivotal in establishing a cooperative international framework in Antarctica, and led on to the Antarctic Treaty System in 1959.

Meanwhile, in an attempt at ending the impasse, Britain submitted an application to the International Court of Justice in 1955 to adjudicate between the territorial claims of Britain, Argentina, and Chile. This proposal failed, as both Latin American countries rejected submitting to an international arbitration procedure.[27]

Negotiations towards the establishment of an international condominium over the continent first began in 1948, involving the 8 claimant countries: Britain, Australia, New Zealand, U.S.A., France, Norway, Chile and Argentina. This attempt was aimed at excluding the Soviet Union from the affairs of the continent and rapidly fell apart when the USSR declared an interest in the region, refused to recognize any claims of sovereignty and reserved the right to make its own claims in 1950.[27]

An important impetus toward the formation of the Antarctic Treaty System in 1959 was the International Geophysical Year, 1957-1958. This year of international scientific cooperation triggered an 18-month period of intense Antarctic science. More than 70 existing national scientific organisations then formed IGY committees, and participated in the cooperative effort. The British established Halley Research Station in 1956 by an expedition from the Royal Society. Sir Vivian Fuchs headed the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica in 1958. In Japan, the Japan Maritime Safety Agency offered ice breaker Sōya as the South Pole observation ship and Showa Station was built as the first Japanese observation base on Antarctica.

France contributed with Dumont d'Urville Station and Charcot Station in Adélie Land. The ship Commandant Charcot of the French Navy spent nine months of 1949/50 at the coast of Adelie Land, performing ionospheric soundings.[28] The US erected the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station as the first permanent structure directly over the South Pole in January 1957.[29]

Finally, to prevent the possibility of military conflict in the region, the United States, United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and 9 other countries with significant interests negotiated and signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959. The treaty entered into force in 1961 and sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation, and banned military activity on that continent. The treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War.[30] Antarctic territorial claims Territorial claims in Antarctica

Seven sovereign states had made eight territorial claims to land in Antarctica south of the 60° S parallel before 1961. These claims have been recognized only between the countries making claims in the area. All claim areas are sectors, with the exception of Peter I Island. None of these claims have an indigenous population. The South Orkney Islands fall within the territory claimed by Argentina and the United Kingdom, and the South Shetland Islands fall within the areas claimed by Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom. The UK, France, Australia, New Zealand and Norway all recognize each other's claims.[31] None of these claims overlap. Prior to 1962, British Antarctic Territory was a dependency of the Falkland Islands and also included South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The Antarctic areas became a separate overseas territory following the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands remained a dependency of the Falkland Islands until 1985 when they too became a separate overseas territory. Official claims Territory Claimant Date Claim limits Area (km2) Argentine Antarctica Argentine Antarctica (Department of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica, and South Atlantic Islands Province) Argentina 1942 Antarctica, Argentina territorial claim.svg 25°W–74°W 1,461,597 Australian Antarctic Territory Australian Antarctic Territory (External dependent territory of Australia) Australia 1933 Antarctica, Australia territorial claim.svg 160°E–142°2′E 136°11′E–44°38′E 5,896,500 Chilean Antarctic Territory Chilean Antarctic Territory (Commune of Antártica Chilena Province) Chile 1940 Antarctica, Chile territorial claim.svg 53°W–90°W 1,250,257.6 French Southern and Antarctic Lands Adélie Land (District of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands) France 1840 Antarctica, France territorial claim.svg 142°2′E–136°11′E 432,000 Ross Dependency Ross Dependency (Dependency of New Zealand) New Zealand 1923 Antarctica, New Zealand territorial claim.svg 150°W–160°E 450,000 Peter I Island Peter I Island (Dependency of Norway) Norway 1929 Antarctica, Norway territorial claim (Peter I Island).svg 68°50′S 90°35′W 154 Queen Maud Land Queen Maud Land (Dependency of Norway) Norway 1939 Antarctica, Norway territorial claim (Queen Maud Land, 2015).svg 44°38′E–20°W 2,700,000 British Antarctic Territory British Antarctic Territory (Overseas territory of the United Kingdom) United Kingdom 1908 Antarctica, United Kingdom territorial claim.svg 20°W–80°W 1,709,400 Total 13,899,908.6 Overlapping claims Claimants Extent of overlap

Argentina,  United Kingdom 	25°W–53°W
Argentina,  Chile,  United Kingdom 	53°W–74°W
Chile,  United Kingdom 	74°W–80°W

Unclaimed Region Unclaimed limits Marie Byrd Land 90°W–150°W Possible future claims

There has been speculation about possible future claims[citation needed]. The United States and Russia (as successor state of the Soviet Union) maintain they have reserved the right to make claims and there have also been speculations on Brazil making a claim bounded by 53° W and 28° W,[32] overlapping thus with the Argentine and British claims but not with the Chilean. Peru made a reservation of its territory rights under the principle of Antarctic defrontation [es] and influence on its climate, ecology and marine biology, adducing, in addition, geological continuity and historical links.[33]

Uruguayan adhesion to Antarctic Treaty System includes a declaration in that it reserves its rights in Antarctica in accordance with international law.[34] Main article: List of Antarctic and subantarctic islands

In 1967 Ecuador declared its right over an area bounded by 84°30' W and 95°30' W. The claim was ratified in 1987.[35]

Four island territories on the Antarctic Plate located north of the 60° South circle of latitude are associated with the continent of Antarctica. None of these territories has an indigenous population.

   Norway Bouvet Island (Dependency of Norway)
   French Southern and Antarctic Lands Districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands excluding Adelie Land.[36]
   Australia Heard Island and McDonald Islands (External dependent territory of Australia)
   South Africa Prince Edward Islands (South African territory)

Another territory, shared between South American Plate and Scotia Plate, is sometime associated with the continent of Antarctica.

    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Overseas territory of the United Kingdom)

Antarctic Treaty Main article: Antarctic Treaty System

The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. The treaty has now been signed by 48 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and the now-defunct Soviet Union. The treaty set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation and banned military activity on that continent. This was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. The Soviet Union and the United States both filed reservations against the restriction on new claims,[37] and the United States and Russia assert their right to make claims in the future if they so choose. Brazil maintains the Comandante Ferraz (the Brazilian Antarctic Base) and has proposed a theory to delimiting territories using meridians, which would give it and other countries a claim. In general, territorial claims below the 60° S parallel have only been recognised among those countries making claims in the area. However, although claims are often indicated on maps of Antarctica, this does not signify de jure recognition.

All claim areas, except Peter I Island, are sectors, the borders of which are defined by degrees of longitude. In terms of latitude, the northern border of all sectors is the 60° S parallel which does not cut through any piece of land, continent or island, and is also the northern limit of the Antarctic Treaty. The southern border of all sectors collapses in one point, the South Pole. Only the Norwegian sector is an exception: the original claim of 1930 did not specify a northern or a southern limit, so that its territory is only defined by eastern and western limits.[note 2]

The Antarctic Treaty states that contracting to the treaty:

   is not a renunciation of any previous territorial claim.
   does not affect the basis of claims made as a result of activities of the signatory nation within Antarctica.
   does not affect the rights of a State under customary international law to recognise (or refuse to recognise) any other territorial claim.
Davis Station, Antarctica - 67th ANARE

Davis Station, Antarctica - 67th ANARE

Living at Davis station, Antarctica

Living at Davis station, Antarctica

What the treaty does affect is new claims:

   No activities occurring after 1961 can be the basis of a territorial claim.
   No new claim can be made.
No claim can be enlarged.

Antarctica landforms

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