Antarctica Case Study A Level AQA Geography
Terms in this set (16)
Concept of the 'global commons'
Supra-national spaces. Beyond the control of any nation state. High Sea, atmosphere, Antarctica and outer space, possibly cyber space. Protected by International Laws and Treaties, e.g. Madrid Protocol, ATS.
World's fresh water % in Antarctica
70% in the form of ice needles and snow - Antarctica contains 14 million km² of ice
Almost 60 times bigger than the UK
Least populated continent on Earth - is rich in wildlife and minerals with known deposits of coal and oil, manganese, titanium and even gold and silver. Home to around 4000 scientists.
The Antarctic Convergence
Natural boundary in the Southern Ocean: a dividing line that loops all the way around the continent. Sea temperatures here fall as much as 4℃ in summer. Watery division separates cold north-flowing waters from the warmer waters of the subantarctic and creates a significant mixing and upwelling of water. This in turn creates a highly productive marine environment for both marine plantlife and animals, such as krill. The Antarctcic Treaty covers the area south of 60°S latitude.
Exploitation started from 19th Century, and in 20th Century the practice for meat and bonemeal, meat extract and frozen whale meat widened. By 1985, stocks were so dangerously low that most commercial whaling ceased.
Fishing in Southern Ocean
Exploitation of variety of fish, such as the Antarctic rock cod (now so depleted that it cannot be fished), icefish and more recently the Patagonian toothfish. This has replaced whaling as the primary contemporary economic focus, with Russia and Japan being the main exploiters.
Any mineral exploitation would have to overcome the seriously hostile environment - not least the major problems of inaccessibility.
Impact of contemporary climate change is most apparent in extreme latitudes - the Arctic and Antarctica. Here global warming has driven significant changes in the physical and living environment, such as melting ice and deteriorating permafrost. The trends are not straightforward and are even counterintuitive - e.g. East Antarctica's ice sheet is thickening - increased evaporation from warmer seas condenses into cloud droplets and fall as extra snow in the frozen interior. However, West Antarctica's ice sheet is smaller and more vulnerable.
What has led to increased tourism
Advances in transport, technology, and clothing.
Impacts of Tourism
Increasing numbers have inevitably led to concerns over ecosystems. Pollution - November 2007 - MS Explorer (Canadian) struck ice and sank near the South Shetland Islands. !54 passengers had to survive sub-freezing temperatures in lifeboats before rescue.
Management of Tourism
Self-regulation by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) was followed in 2009 by signatories of the Antarctic Treaty agreeing to prevent more than one ship at a time landing at any one site, and limiting the number of tourists to 100 at a time. Regulations even require toilet waste to be barrelled and transported home. Tour operators only touch small portion of mass ice sheet, with 10 out of 200 landing sites showing any signs of wear and tear. Tourists are usually well educated and responsible, and litter is negligible.
Antarctic Treaty System (ATS)
December 1959, 12 nations, including USA and USSR signed in agreement not to recognise, dispute, establish, or allow future claims of territorial sovereignty over Antarctica. Also there were agreements to:
- guarantee free access and research rights to all countries
- prohibit military activity such as nuclear bomb tests
- ban the dumping of nuclear waste
Protocol on Environmental Protection
1991, 45 nations signed in agreement to:
- ban all mineral resource activity including the exploration of the continental shelf
- promote comprehensive monitoring and assessment in order to minimise human impacts on Antarctica's fragile ecosystems.
Work of NGO's
Their role is important for:
- concentrating and providing expertise
- championing causes
- contributing independent perspectives
- rallying public support (eg. social media)
- provoking action
e.g. World Wild Fund for Nature (WWWF), Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace
Designating marine protected areas and marine reserves in East Antarctica has been successful as a result of work from the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA).
International Whaling Commission (IWC)
Set up in 1946 to monitor and conserve global whale stocks and oversee the whaling industry.
The IWC decided that all whaling activity should cease from 1985-6. It remains in place today although Norway and Iceland continue commercial whaling under objection to the IWC.