The truth about the Antarctic Treaty

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The truth about the Antarctic Treaty Powered By Docstoc
					            The Antarctic continent

• Coldest, driest, windiest, highest, and least
  accessible continent
• Winter population 1000 people; 10,000 in
• Ice-covered for past 25 million years
• Less than 2% of continent is ice free
• Once home of dinosaurs, trees and plants
• 2 Flowering Plants
• Pearlwort
• Grass
• Only on Antarctic
• There are also bacteria,
  molds, yeast, algae and
• 1773 - Captain Cook - wooden ship could not penetrate
  the ice ring.
• 1822 - James Weddell (Sealing)
• 1830 - Whalers came
• 1911 - Roald Amundsen reaches South Pole
• 1915 – Ernest Shackleton stuck in ice
• 1959 – Antarctic Treaty
             The Antarctic Treaty

• Antarctica is “a natural reserve devoted to peace
  and science”
• Mining is forbidden
• Treaty runs indefinitely
• Forty-six countries have acceded to Antarctic
  Treaty (80% of the world population)
• All 46 countries have to agree to Treaty revisions
      Home truths from the Antarctic
• The Antarctic is most rigorously protected region
  of the world
• International inspection teams monitor
  compliance with Antarctic Treaty
• Man’s footprint on Antarctica is practically
• More “pollution” enters region through the
  atmosphere than is generated there (DDT, CFCs )
              Antarctic discoveries
• Destruction of the ozone layer
• 400,000 year demonstration of link between greenhouse
  gases and climate (using ice core samples)
• Global impact of the Industrial Revolution (also ice core
• Lakes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet believed to contain
  life forms possibly millions of years old
             The Antarctic ice sheet
• Ice up to three miles (4500 m) thick
• Coldest surface temperature -128.2 degrees F
• Enough ice for each person in the world to have a block
  180 m by 180 m by 180 m (594 feet X 594 feet x 594
• If all melted, sea level could rise 65 meters (215 feet)
• If all the glaciers doubled their speed of flow it would
  take 12,000 years for the ice to float into the sea
           Antarctic ice and sea level rise
• A small change in the size of the      • The disintegration of ice shelves
  Antarctic ice sheet would be serious     from the Antarctic Peninsula has had
  for sea level                            no effect on sea level yet
• One small part of Antarctica is        • Most of Antarctica is not warming
  above freezing in the summer - the       yet
  Antarctic Peninsula.                   • In a warmer world more snow will
• The Antarctic Peninsula is warming       fall over the Antarctic-why?
  and its coastline is changing          • Increased Antarctic snowfall is
• Maps of Antarctica need updating         possibly the only natural way that
  regularly because of the changes to      sea level rise can be slowed
  the coastline
    Future developments in Antarctica

• Exploring largest lake under the ice sheet
• Obtaining a reliable climate record over half a
  million years…and further back?
• Exploiting natural “antifreeze” in Antarctic
• Studying effects of increased UV-radiation and
  “global warming” on Antarctic life
Lake Vostok
          Grand isolation?
  Possibly this water
has been out of
contact with the rest
of the Earth’s water
for over 1 million
years, some say 10
million years.
             Microbes from the Deep

The ice harboring these
finds is as old as 1,000,000
years, depending on the
They are found in freshwater
ice that has probably
migrated upward from the
                      What are they?
• Some are readily recognizable as cyanobacteria (carbon + nitrogen),
  bacteria, fungi, spores, pollen grains, and diatoms, but some are not
  recognizable as anything anyone has ever seen before.
• Many of the cyanobacteria from 3500-4000 feet down contained lots of
  antimony – a toxic heavy metal of unknown origin.
• DNA analysis shows they are similar to modern-day organisms,
  including one called a proteo-bacteria.
• The discovery shows that an extremely cold, dark environment that is
  cut off from a ready supply of nutrients can still support life.
• If there is liquid water, can there be life?
• We also need a source of energy and the presence of
  biogenic elements.
• Both of these could be present at the bottom of the lake
  where the water would be in contact with silicate
• There might be hydrothermal systems on the lake floor
  similar to those on Earth’s surface, which would provide
  an ideal source of energy to support life.
Dream cryobot discovers hydrothermal
vents in Lake Vostok.

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