Why Antarctica?

Why Antarctica?

Or, ‘what makes Antarctica so special?’ 

The answers to this question provide my reasons for choosing to study this other-worldly continent.

Antarctica is a place of enormous proportions (bigger than the entirety of the US and Mexico combined), unimaginable weather conditions and properties (it’s the highest, driest, coldest continent in the world) and is home to uniquely hardy animals (from Emperor penguins who manage to breed in the depths of winter, to Antarctic fish with anti-freeze properties within their blood).

And, vitally, it’s a place of cutting-edge science; from state-of-the-art astronomy looking at dark energy at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, to biological studies of the changing migration habits of penguins in the Ross Sea region. Amidst the many national bases, some 4000-odd people work the summer months, whilst around 1000 brave the winter (a vast proportion of these being support staff to the scientists themselves).

‘Argentine Antarctica’ by Mariamichelle on pixabay

The science and exploration being done here are vital, not only for our understandings of the continent but for the future stability of our planet. With 90% of the world’s ice being held in the Antarctic ice sheet, warming oceans means the potential for an increased rate of sea-level rise. This (but not this alone) makes discussions of global environmental change within the context of Antarctica of huge importance.

Anyway, more on all of these topics over the coming months. Till next time!


Cover image by Cassie Matias on Unsplash

GEOGG004 assessment 1. 

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