Why do so many nations want a piece of Antarctica? - BBC News
Antarctica is a unique continent in that it does not have a native The heat balance, also called the energy balance, is the relationship between the amount of solar heat Geographers map the surface of the world's coldest and most Base Esperanza also houses the first Catholic chapel () and first. Food at the base is still sometimes called “man-food”, a legacy of the days This year, one man was mapping the ice bed in the equivalent of Italy. winter and most were in relationships, “that will be hard for the winterers”. The focus of New Zealand's relationship with China in the last 9 years has .. Map showing China's current bases and fifth planned base in the.
This will not happen any time soon, but even small losses would affect coastal cities and islands around the world, as well as some of the most iconic polar creatures.
The race to understand Antarctica has become more urgent, even as conditions on the continent remain as forbidding as ever. Rothera consists of a cluster of pale green buildings surrounded by glittering icebergs on the Antarctic Peninsula, the part of the frozen continent nearest the bottom of Chile.
For an idea of its location, make a fist with your left hand and raise it so that your palm is facing your nose, leaving your thumb to stick out.
The Peninsula looks like your thumb, your fist is roughly the shape of the rest of Antarctica and the left side of the top thumb knuckle is approximately where Rothera is. Rothera has a population of about in the southern summer.
Territorial claims in Antarctica
This dwindles to just over 20 through the dark winter, when a skeleton crew keeps the base functioning. The alien beauty of the Antarctic was evident from the moment we landed, as was its fragility. The first thing our feet hit as we stumbled down the plane steps was a tray of disinfectant, put there to kill any foreign organisms we might have brought with us.
I was told to keep at least 5m away from the creatures, which lead a happier life than local seals did in the past. The animals were once shot to feed the sledge dogs that lived on the base until Antarctic Treaty rules saw the last of them shipped off to Canada in the early s.
In the Antarctic, you really are working on the edge of knowledge Peter Fretwell, geographer, British Antarctic Survey Soon after arriving, I met Clem Collins, an air unit assistant who has been working on and off at Rothera since We were quickly whisked off for an intensive bout of briefings on how to live — and survive — at the base: Job definitions were loose.
The engineer held yoga classes. Field guides turned into ski instructors on the slope behind the runway. A brisk tour of the station was led by the doctor, who also ran the post office. She later presented us with a fake foam bottom to teach us how to inject someone with morphine, should the need arise.Antarctica, Secret Bases, Palm Trees, Green Pyramids, Scrubbed Timelines, Tanks & More - Live Tour
Basic medical know-how is a must in a place where weather can make rescues risky. Pinned to the wall is a map of Europe overlaid with dots showing how far away the scientists are working if one imagined Rothera as London. This year, one man was mapping the ice bed in the equivalent of Italy. Some were collecting equipment in what would have been Turkey, and another was drilling ice cores in a spot that would have been Saudi Arabia. Many had flown out in planes with skis, landing in a way that would raise the hair on an ordinary passenger.
With no runways to guide them, Antarctic pilots often have to make several low passes over a potential landing spot, hoping that the pressure of the trailing skis exposes any hidden crevasses before they eventually touch down.
Even then, safety is not assured. A veteran pilot working for the Australian Antarctic Division landed safely in but died after stepping out and falling into a hidden crack in the ice nearby. The highest point at Rothera is marked with a cross surrounded by plaques in memory of those who have perished over the years.
The pilots killed in an air crash. The station worker who got lost in bad weather. And the scientists who set off over sea ice to see a penguin colony and never came back. Scientists have been eager to study Antarctica since the s, when explorers caught their first glimpses of the last continent on earth to be discovered. The memoirs of early researchers remain a stark record of the difficulties of working in a place where average temperatures can plunge below C in winter; winds reach hurricane strength and about 98 per cent of the land is covered in ice up to 4.
His chattering teeth shattered in the bitter cold. One of his colleagues nearly lost an eye when he was hit by a blob of sizzling blubber from the camp stove.
Inside Antarctica: the continent whose fate will affect millions | Financial Times
Working at an Antarctic station is not for the faint of heart at any time, especially in winter, when the icy darkness can make evacuations impossible and tempers can fray. Historians say that in the s, a Soviet scientist killed a colleague with an axe for cheating at chess, while a doctor at an Argentine base burnt the station down in to force an evacuation home.
Jess Walkup, an ebullient year-old with a PhD in evolutionary ecology, will lead the Rothera base this winter.
Her responsibilities already range from mediating staff squabbles to organising boat cargo and setting the price of beer in the bar. When I asked what kept her awake at night, she said: And sexism is not entirely dead. Still, she has faced far worse. One day, she spotted a giant petrel with a leg tag that needed to be read. But as she got closer, it took off over her head. She cried out just as the startled creature vomited a load of rotting seal poop that dropped straight into her open mouth.
It was easy to believe her. Unsurprisingly, much of the continent has long been a mystery. The first broadly accurate map was not produced until The UK always thought the highest mountain in its part of the continent was Mt Jackson but in December BAS researchers said new satellite data had revealed it was actually Mt Hope, which was 55m taller.
People regularly confuse it with the Arctic, an ocean surrounded by land with a permanent population of about four million. The Antarctic is a continent surrounded by water and a shifting population that can rise to about 10, in summer and falls to some 1, in winter. It is visited by more than 35, tourists each year many of whom never get off a boat. Until this century, there was more known about the shape of ice on Mars than Antarctica.
Not that long ago, such a question would have seemed odd. Ice shelves, unlike ice sheets, are big floating slabs that form as land ice spreads out on the ocean. As they grow, icebergs eventually snap off at their edges, though not always as dramatically as the Delaware-sized slab that split from the Larsen C ice shelf last July. But scientists gradually realised that the shelves act like gigantic door-stoppers, stemming the rate at which ice from land — which does raise sea levels — flows down into the sea.
But some researchers now think parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet could have tipped into a state of unstoppable collapse. But Shepherd said the bottom line is we do not know for sure: Ted Scambos, one of the US scientists behind the study, said: One morning, a bunch of people gingerly lowered themselves into an inflatable boat to go and see something remarkable near the Sheldon Glacier, a huge long lump of ice that oozes down to the sea not far away.
Everyone wore puffy orange immersion suits because falling into the icy water would have spelled death in minutes.
Research stations in Antarctica
The boat had to steer clear of icebergs, which can topple over and crush anything near them, as well as the towering glacier cliffs, where falling chunks of ice can be equally deadly.
Some of us had never been to the Antarctic before and were openly agog as we motored past floating ice where pods of fat seals lazed in the sun. Another explained how to chip off bits of glacial ice for gin and tonics back at the base, where it pops as it melts and releases bubbles of air trapped for thousands of years.
This stands for the Mapping and Geographic Information Centre, which draws up maps for scientists, pilots and anyone else visiting Antarctica. Fretwell kept frowning at a satellite map he had brought, which showed the large bay we had come to was not quite what it seemed. In fact, 25 years ago, it would not have been there at all.
Back then, it would have been covered in thick ice flowing down from the mountains. But the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on the planet.
First bases[ edit ] "Omond House", the first permanent base, built in by the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition During the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration in the late 19th century, the first bases on the continent were established.
The expedition is often referred to now as the 'Southern Cross' Expeditionafter their ship's name. Most of the staff were Norwegian, but the funds for the expedition were British, provided by Sir George Newnes.
The 10 members of the expedition explored Robinson Bay to the west of Cape Adare by dog teams, and later, after being picked up by the ship at the base, went ashore on the Ross Ice Shelf for brief journeys. The expedition hut is still in good condition and visited frequently by tourists. The hut was later occupied by Scott's Northern Party under the command of Victor Campbell for a year inafter its attempt to explore the eastern end of the ice shelf discovered Roald Amundsen already ashore preparing for his assault on the South Pole.
InDr William S. Bruce 's Scottish National Antarctic Expedition set off to Antarctica, with one of its aims to establish a meteorological station in the area. After the expedition failed to find land, Bruce decided to head back to the Laurie Island in the South Orkneys and find an anchorage there. The building was constructed from local materials using the dry stone method, with a roof improvised from wood and canvas sheeting.