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The polar region is the area surrounding the Earth’s geographical poles (Antarctica, Arctic). While glacially induced faults are well known in the formerly glaciated areas of Northern Europe, such faults within the Arctic and Antarctica are unidentified, although the theory of their physical mechanism would allow their presence. Mainly, the fact that most of the polar region is covered either by ocean (Arctic) or ice sheets (Antarctica, Greenland) prevents detailed analysis of those regions with respect to glacially induced faults. However, there are several indications that suggest an existence of glacially induced faults in the polar region. Here, we summarize findings about potential glacially induced faults in Northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard on the northern hemisphere and revisit the seismicity in Antarctica.
As Ngāi Tahu (southern Maori), we take issue with widespread reference in scholarly publication to Polynesian voyagers reaching the Antarctic, an idea that originated in the translation of Rarotongan traditions in the nineteenth century. Analysis of those indicates that they contain no plausible reference to Antarctic seafaring. Southern Māori interests have extended into the Subantarctic Islands for 800 years but there is no reference to Antarctica in our historical traditions. Our archaeology and history document a southern boundary to Māori occupation at Port Ross (Auckland Islands), despite habitable islands existing further south. We think it is very unlikely that Māori or other Polynesian voyaging reached the Antarctic.
The discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985 is chronicled, making the analogy with the concept of the “black swan,” a metaphor for unprecedented events. The ozone layer in the stratosphere acts as a shield for life on the Earth, by blocking harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Concern mounted in the 1970s that compounds known as chlorofluorocarbons, used as refrigerants and coolants, could be slowly destroying the ozone layer. Joe Farman and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) found that ozone levels in the stratosphere had dropped dramatically during the Antarctic spring season in the 1980s, creating a “hole” in the ozone layer. US scientist Susan Solomon led an expedition to make measurements of the ozone hole and worked with colleagues to explain the cause: cold Antarctic temperatures allowed the formation of polar stratospheric clouds that catalyzed chemical reactions involving CFCs, leading to rapid ozone loss.
Proteases are widely used in industrial processes, and the discovery of new, more kinetically efficient proteases can have a positive impact on industry. Enzymes from Antarctic microorganisms exhibit cold-adaptive properties, making them useful in biotechnology. The cold and harsh environment of Antarctica makes it a valuable source for new biotechnologically related enzymes. In this study, we characterized two cold-adapted proteases purified from Pseudoalteromonas issachenkonii P14M1-4 and Flavobacterium frigidimaris ANT34-7, isolated from King George Island, Antarctica, and compared these with proteases from the non-cold-adapted bacteria Bacillus licheniformis and Geobacillus stearothermophilus. The best temperature growing conditions were used for protease purification and characterization. The protease from P. issachenkonii P14M1-4 was identified as a 40–43 kDa metal-dependent subtilisin-like serine protease and the protease from F. frigidimaris ANT34-7 was identified as a 28 kDa metalloprotease. The enzymes showed an optimum temperature of between 35°C and 40°C and an optimum pH in the neutral to alkaline range. Their activation energies, catalytic constants and growth capacities at different temperatures categorize them as cold-adapted enzymes. We conclude that the characteristics exhibited by these proteases make them useful for biotechnological purposes requiring high activity at low temperatures. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first characterization of a cold-adapted protease from F. frigidimaris.
Antarctica’s Pole of Inaccessibility (Southern Pole of Inaccessibility (SPI)) is the point on the Antarctic continent farthest from its edge. Existing literature exhibits disagreement over its location. Using two revisions of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research’s Antarctic Digital Database, we calculate modern-day positions for the SPI around 10 years apart, based on the position of the “outer” Antarctic coastline, i.e. its boundary with the ocean. These show that the position of the SPI in the year 2010 was around 83° 54’ S, 64° 53’ E, shifting on the order of 1 km per year as a result of changes of a similar magnitude in the Amery, Ronne-Filchner and Ross Ice Shelves. Excepting a position of the SPI calculated by British Antarctic Survey in 2005, to which it is very close, our newly calculated position differs by 150–900 km from others reported in the literature. We also consider the “inner” SPI, defined by the coastline with floating ice removed. The position of this SPI in 2010 is estimated as 83°37’ S, 53° 43’ E, differing significantly from other reported positions. Earlier cartographic data are probably not sufficiently accurate to allow its rate of change to be calculated meaningfully.
Sexual harassment is a common experience for women and those from other underrepresented groups in (white) male-dominated fields such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Women are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment during remote scientific fieldwork. To date, most of the limited research on fieldwork harassment has focused on individual experiences. There is an urgent need for research on organizational approaches to fieldwork sexual harassment. This study fills this gap by examining sexual harassment prevention by National Antarctic Programs. It draws on a desktop analysis of 36 National Antarctic Program websites with a focus on the current availability and quality of sexual harassment policies and procedures in expeditioner handbooks/field manuals. Findings show that very few National Antarctic Programs make their expeditioner handbooks/field manuals publicly available (n = 9), and even fewer mention sexual harassment in the documentation or describe how to lodge a complaint (n = 3). This article concludes by offering some reasons as to why National Antarctic Programs may be neglecting this issue. It also provides practical recommendations for developing more substantive content in expeditioner handbooks/field manuals and for building inclusive fieldwork environments for a diverse range of expeditioners.
This article presents the main aspects of the design solutions (based on the application of sensors MEMS and cantilevers), testing and applying of the multi-functional borehole logger ANTTIC (Antarctic Thermo-barometer, Inclinometer, Caliper) for geophysical high-precision monitoring (when simultaneous registering of temperature, pressure, axis inclination angle and radii of borehole cross-sections at 12 points), which is designed specifically for ultra-low temperatures and ultra-high pressures, and to determine an elliptical borehole shape and registration anisotropy factor in deep ice boreholes in the central region of Eastern Antarctica, in the areas of dome A at the Kunlun station (China) and/or of lake Vostok at the Vostok station (Russia).
This paper traces France’s role in the Antarctic from 1840, when explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville discovered the slice of the white continent he named Terre Adélie, to the present day. Since World War II, Terre Adélie has been the site of a host of performances of sovereignty: the French have built bases, drawn maps, conducted scientific investigations and erected plaques. But France’s commitment to Terre Adélie has been tested and has fallen into crisis several times. The history of France in Antarctica is a tale of ambition, ambivalence, trade-offs and political strategy. This paper aims to elucidate this story, focusing on the concept of sovereignty and the nexus of scientific and political interests. I argue that France’s relationship with the Antarctic has been characterised by continual tension, by peaks and troughs and by brinkmanship on the part of actors with their own stakes. While there is broad agreement that Terre Adélie serves a fundamental national interest, I show that France’s ambitions on the white continent are far from decided. With its focus on France, which has largely been left out of the growing body of literature on the Antarctic, this paper contributes to building a robust historical understanding of Antarctic claims.
Species distribution modelling studies the relationship between species occurrence records and their environmental setting, providing a valuable approach to predicting species distribution in the Southern Ocean (SO), a challenging region to investigate due to its remoteness and extreme weather and sea conditions. The specificity of SO studies, including restricted field access and sampling, the paucity of observations and difficulties in conducting biological experiments, limit the performance of species distribution models. In this review, we discuss some issues that may influence model performance when preparing datasets and calibrating models, namely the selection and quality of environmental descriptors, the spatial and temporal biases that may affect the quality of occurrence data, the choice of modelling algorithms and the spatial scale and limits of the projection area. We stress the importance of evaluating and communicating model uncertainties, and the most common evaluation metrics are reviewed and discussed accordingly. Based on a selection of case studies on SO benthic invertebrates, we highlight important cautions to take and pitfalls to avoid when modelling the distribution of SO species, and we provide some guidelines along with potential methods and original solutions that can be used for improving model performance.
Place names serve a symbolic function in enforcing colonial power over landscapes. Within colonial locales, place names reproduce and reflect the ideological goals of settlers to reinforce or claim space for an individual, group or nation. One toponymically understudied colonial region where place names play a prominent role is the Antarctic, where the names of research bases promote the cultural power of settler nations to symbolically claim the continental landscape. As Antarctica is a geopolitically contested space, Antarctic research base names serve as an ideological purpose in reinforcing claims to the Antarctic, contrasting the ostensibly scientific purpose of research bases. This paper examines Antarctic research base names by categorising and interpreting their naming sources through a critical toponymic lens. This paper discusses general Antarctic naming trends and establishes possible reasons and outcomes of their employment, using three primary arguments: (1) Antarctic research base names are often nationalistic and reflect the implicit geopolitical goals of settler nations, (2) Antarctic research base names reflect and reproduce ongoing polar colonialism and (3) contestation over the naming of Antarctic research bases exemplifies the iconographical and cultural conflict between Antarctic nations. This paper seeks to provoke a future toponymic investigation into Antarctica and study Antarctic cultural landscapes more generally.
The Southern Hemisphere lichen genus Villophora in subfamily Teloschistoideae is analyzed based on DNA sequence data. Six species are described, five of which are new to science: V. darwiniana and V. wallaceana grow on lignum and bark in southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego; V. onas and V. patagonica are lichenicolous or saxicolous on rocks in southern Patagonia; V. rimicola is saxicolous in Antarctica. Based on a three-gene DNA analysis, Tayloriellina is shown to be closely related to Villophora, and Tayloriellina microphyllina is established as a new combination. A key is provided to all species of the two genera. Raesaeneniana maulensis is combined into Villophora.
We provide our perspective on the species-level taxonomy of notothenioid fishes, the dominant component of the fish fauna of Antarctica. There are 140 species in 45 genera, an increase of 15% since the previous summary in 2000. Biogeographically, 30 species are non-Antarctic, 33 are sub-Antarctic and 77 are Antarctic. The checklist is documented with footnotes that provide the rationale for our decisions. Supplementary Material provides additional details for our decisions on two species of Pogonophryne.
A deep ice core was drilled at Dome A, Antarctic Plateau, East Antarctica, which started with the installation of a casing in January 2012 and reached 800.8 m in January 2017. To date, a total of 337 successful ice-core drilling runs have been conducted, including 118 runs to drill the pilot hole. The total drilling time was 52 days, of which eight days were required for drilling down and reaming the pilot hole, and 44 days for deep ice coring. The average penetration depths of individual runs were 1 and 3.1 m for the pilot hole drilling and deep ice coring, respectively. The quality of the ice cores was imperfect in the brittle zone (650−800 m). Some of the troubles encountered are discussed for reference, such as armoured cable knotting, screws falling into the hole bottom, and damaged parts, among others.
It is often noted that few States recognize the seven national claims to Antarctic territory. Australia, one of the claimants, asserts title over 42 per cent of the continent and yet only four States have recognized its claim. Some States have expressly rejected Australia's claim. This article examines the legal significance of such widespread non-recognition. It does so through interrogating the evolution of the legal regime of territorial acquisition, its historical function and application to Antarctica, and relevant decisions of international courts and tribunals. The article identifies, and distinguishes amongst, several categories of non-recognition and considers the relevance of each. The analysis finds that the seemingly meagre level of recognition of Australia's title to the Australian Antarctic Territory does not detract from the validity of that title. This article points to possible reasons as to why a number of polar scholars may have suggested otherwise.
Ice-covered lakes in Antarctica preserve records of regional hydroclimate and harbour extreme ecosystems that may serve as terrestrial analogues for exobiotic environments. Here, we examine the impacts of hydroclimate and landscape on the formation history of Lake Eggers, a small ice-sealed lake, located in the coastal polar desert of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica (78°S). Using ground penetrating radar surveys and three lake ice cores we characterize the ice morphology and chemistry. Lake ice geochemistry indicates that Lake Eggers is fed primarily from local snowmelt that accreted onto the lake surface during runoff events. Radiocarbon ages of ice-encased algae suggest basal ice formed at least 735 ± 20 calibrated years before present (1215 C.E.). Persisting through the Late Holocene, Lake Eggers alternated between periods of ice accumulation and sublimation driven by regional climate variability in the western Ross Sea. For example, particulate organic matter displayed varying δ15N ratios with depth, corresponding to sea ice fluctuations in the western Ross Sea during the Late Holocene. These results suggest a strong climatic control on the hydrologic regime shifts shaping ice formation at Lake Eggers.
Year-round monitoring of Erebus volcano (Ross Island) has proved challenging due to the difficulties of maintaining continuous power for scientific instruments, especially through the Antarctic winter. We sought a potential solution involving the harvesting of thermal energy dissipated close to the summit crater of the volcano in a zone of diffuse hot gas emissions. We designed, constructed and tested a power generator based on the Seebeck effect, converting thermal energy to electrical power, which could, in principle, be used to run monitoring devices year round. We report here on the design of the generator and the results of an 11 day trial deployment on Erebus volcano in December 2014. The generator produced a mean output power of 270 mW, although we identified some technical issues that had impaired its efficiency. Nevertheless, this is already sufficient power for some monitoring equipment and, with design improvements, such a generator could provide a viable solution to powering a larger suite of instrumentation.
A Fast Ice Prediction System (FIPS) was constructed and is the first regional land-fast sea-ice forecasting system for the Antarctic. FIPS had two components: (1) near-real-time information on the ice-covered area from MODIS and SAR imagery that revealed, tidal cracks, ridged and rafted ice regions; (2) a high-resolution 1-D thermodynamic snow and ice model (HIGHTSI) that was extended to perform a 2-D simulation on snow and ice evolution using atmospheric forcing from ECMWF: either using ERA-Interim reanalysis (in hindcast mode) or HERS operational 10-day predictions (in forecast mode). A hindcast experiment for the 2015 season was in good agreement with field observations, with a mean bias of 0.14 ± 0.07 m and a correlation coefficient of 0.98 for modeled ice thickness. The errors are largely caused by a cold bias in the atmospheric forcing. The thick snow cover during the 2015 season led to modeled formation of extensive snow ice and superimposed ice. The first FIPS operational service was performed during the 2017/18 season. The system predicted a realistic ice thickness and onset of snow surface melt as well as the area of internal ice melt. The model results on the snow and ice properties were considered by the captain of R/V Xuelong when optimizing a low-risk route for on-ice transportation through fast ice to the coastal Zhongshan Station.
The term “Antarctic ambassadorship” is increasingly used to represent an individual’s connection to Antarctica and their subsequent advocacy. However, there is little clarity regarding the concept. To address this, we combined a literature review with an expert elicitation workshop. We argue that (i) the concept of Antarctic ambassador has been understood in myriad ways; (ii) Antarctic ambassadors have a connection to, knowledge of and passion for Antarctica; (iii) they also have a commitment to defending and advancing Antarctic values and (iv) Antarctic ambassadorship is about more than advocacy. We propose the first comprehensive definition of Antarctic ambassadorship. We hope this will provide a cornerstone upon which future research, and a more informed governance of Antarctic tourism, can be built.
Bioremediation has been proposed as a means of dealing with oil spills on the continent. However, the introduction of non-native organisms, including microbes, even for this purpose would appear to breach the terms of the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. This study therefore aimed to optimize the growth conditions and diesel degradation activity of the Antarctic native bacteria Arthrobacter spp. strains AQ5-05 and AQ5-06 through the application of a one-factor-at-a-time (OFAT) approach. Both strains were psychrotolerant, with the optimum temperature supporting diesel degradation being 10–15°C. Both strains were also screened for biosurfactant production and biofilm formation. Their diesel degradation potential was assessed using Bushnell–Haas medium supplemented with 0.5% (v/v) diesel as the sole carbon source and determined using both gravimetric and gas chromatography and mass spectrophotometry analysis. Strain AQ5-06 achieved 37.5% diesel degradation, while strain AQ5-05 achieved 34.5% diesel degradation. Both strains produced biosurfactants and showed high biofilm adherence. Strains AQ5-05 and AQ5-06 showed high cellular hydrophobicity rates of 73.0% and 81.5%, respectively, in hexadecane, with somewhat lower values of 60.5% and 70.5%, respectively, in tetrahexadecane. Optimized conditions identified via OFAT increased diesel degradation to 41.0% and 47.5% for strains AQ5-05 and AQ5-06, respectively. Both strains also demonstrated the ability to degrade diesel in the presence of heavy metal co-pollutants. This study therefore confirms the potential use of these cold-tolerant bacterial strains in the biodegradation of diesel-polluted Antarctic soils at low environmental temperatures.
This chapter analyzes the shrinking domain of the high seas – taking place as a result of encroachment of continental shelf claims under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – and what that portends for the governance both of regional hot spots, such as the South China Sea and the Arctic, and of the Internet, due in part to the expanding web of submarine cables. The chapter begins by exploring how oceanic governance has been shaped by such forces as advancing technology, multipolar politics, and resource scarcity. It next investigates the evolution of the law of the sea from its Roman Law origins to the 1994 New York Amendments of the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, with special attention paid to the growth of the territorial seas. It then analyzes the recent spate of continental shelf claims brought to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and their impact on the governance regimes applicable to offshore resources, using the Arctic, Antarctic, and South China Seas as illustrative examples. Finally, the chapter applies lessons, such as governance best practices in the form of minilateral norm building from the Arctic Council, to cyberspace.