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There are at least four ways in which Antarctic colonialism was white: it was paradigmatically performed by white men; it consisted in the taking of vast, white expanses of land; it was carried out with a carte blanche (literally, “blank card”) attitude; and it was presented to the world as a white, innocent adventure. While the first, racial whiteness has been amply problematised, I suggest that the last three illuminate yet other moral wrongs of the Antarctic colonial project. Moreover, they might be constitutive of a larger class of “white” colonialisms beyond the White Continent.
In 1942, the British government created the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) to enforce sovereignty over the Antarctic Peninsula. The small groups of men who worked for the Survey called themselves Fids. During the late 1950s when Antarctic sovereignty was being hotly debated and worked out by national governments, Fids serving at British bases criticised the British government’s use of science as a bargaining chip. Using in-house magazines written and printed at FIDS bases and oral histories, this article examines how Fids viewed Antarctic politics and how those events influenced daily life at bases on the Peninsula.
The ratification of the Antarctic Treaty established a unique construct for human presence and activity in Antarctica. The designation of the continent for peace and science has inspired and informed the work of artists from across the world. This paper explores relationships between the Treaty and contemporary visual artists’ responses to Antarctica. Using data from interviews with scientists, cultural professionals and exhibition audiences, I explore the value to science and society of artists’ presence in Antarctica. I look at why in the last 2 years the number of artists being supported to work in Antarctica has declined and conclude with some observations on how this downward trend might be addressed.
The visual arts have played an increasingly important role in examining and critiquing past and present human activities in Antarctica as governed by the Antarctic Treaty and its Protocol on Environmental protection. This paper analyses the work of six artists who have contributed to this scrutiny, awakening us to fabrications and helping to enrich Antarctic cultures beyond the scientific and the environmental. It encourages all signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty System to embrace and empower a more diverse artistic engagement with Antarctica and suggests that artists find new ways to address threats to the Antarctic, whether they come from within and from without.
Reporting on scientific research from Antarctica faces familiar tensions between journalism and science. Among the particular obstacles are the mainstream media’s focus on novelty and the constant need for new angles and new voices. While science journalism has been gaining recognition, many media organisations continue to view it as secondary to more traditional areas of reporting such as politics, business and sports. At a time when we face several environmental crises, that is arguably no longer representative of reality. Coverage of Antarctic issues, including science, could improve if editorial teams were more cross-disciplinary to extend beyond each individual’s boundaries of expertise.
Dinoflagellate cyst assemblages recovered from the La Meseta Formation cropping out in Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula, are studied herein and their distribution is compared with the biostratigraphic scheme available for the Palaeogene of the Southern Ocean and other high-latitude regions. In this way, the La Meseta Formation is dated as middle Lutetian to Priabonian (46.2–36 Ma), which differs from the age provided by other fossils, isotopes and also with the magnetostratigraphic scheme recently performed for the unit. The dinoflagellate cyst data support the proposal of ocean circulation patterns on the South American Shelf prior to the opening of Drake Passage. Assemblages from the La Meseta Formation contain Antarctic-endemic taxa which are also dominant in several circum-Antarctic sites, located south of 45° S. Their distribution reflects an ocean-circulation scheme with wide clockwise gyres surrounding Antarctica that were disrupted as a consequence of the deepening and definitive apertures of the Tasmanian Gateway and Drake Passage towards the Eocene/Oligocene transition. The palaeoenvironmental inference based on the S/D ratio (sporomorphs versus dinoflagellate cysts) and the P/G ratio (peridinioid versus gonyaulacoid dinoflagellate cysts) suggests an overall trend through the section from marine-dominated assemblages with poorly productive waters in the lower part of the section to more terrestrially dominated assemblages with increasing productivity in the upper part of the unit, reflecting a shallowing trend to the top.
Art may be made as a guide to understanding sense of place, and also as a pathway to understanding and valuing scientific ideas. Here we consider this connection in the context of a selected history of artists working in Antarctica, from early explorers to the modern era. This provides a parallel trajectory for the nature, realisation and purpose of the art. We then consider the interaction between art and science and the nature of interdisciplinary work by looking at work produced in a sea ice-based science field camp by an artist collecting data – both scientific and art focused. The artist participated in two field campaigns a year apart, allowing comparison of the evolution of both the artistic practice and the science data collection. Furthermore, the collection of data that served both needs provides a unique point of connection between two fields of endeavour, which are typically considered as separate.
Modern baleen whales (Mysticeti), the largest animals on Earth, arose from small ancestors around 36.4 million years ago (Ma). True gigantism is thought to have arisen late in mysticete history, with species exceeding 10 m unknown prior to 8 Ma. This view is challenged by new fossils from Seymour Island (Isla Marambio), Antarctica, which suggest that enormous whales once roamed the Southern Ocean during the Late Eocene (c. 34 Ma). The new material hints at an unknown species of the archaic mysticete Llanocetus with a total body length of up to 12 m. The latter is comparable to that of extant Omura's whales (Balaenoptera omurai Wada et al. 2003), and suggests that gigantism has been a re-occurring feature of mysticetes since their very origin. Functional analysis including sharpness and dental wear implies an at least partly raptorial feeding strategy, starkly contrasting with the filtering habit of living whales. The new material markedly expands the size range of archaic mysticetes, and demonstrates that whales achieved considerable disparity shortly after their origin.
It has long been argued that mood fluctuation patterns in Antarctic expeditioners are largely homogeneous. This research investigated mood fluctuation patterns throughout all the stages of Antarctic deployment using latent class growth analysis. Utilising advanced statistical methods, such as latent class growth analysis, can greatly help in identifying if mood fluctuation patterns experienced by Antarctic expeditioners are homogenous, and provide insight into mood fluctuation patterns, which was not possible with traditional group-based quantitative methods. Gaining a greater insight into mood fluctuation patterns in Antarctic expeditioners can assist with the development, and implementation of, strategies to assist with expeditioner well-being. The analysis was conducted on 423 expeditioner from the Australian Antarctic program between the 2005-2009 Antarctic deployment seasons. The results supported the notion that mood fluctuation patterns in expeditioners within the Australian-Antarctic programme were largely homogeneous, as a 1-class cubic latent class growth model was identified as being the optimal fit for the dataset. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in relation to research and prevention and intervention strategies.
Species identification based on the morphometry of opisthaptoral hard parts, in combination with internal transcribed spacer ribosomal DNA (ITS rDNA) region sequences, confirmed the presence of four viviparous Gyrodactylus von Nordman, 1832 (Plathyhelminthes, Monogenea) species on Nototheniid fish from the Prince Gustav Channel (Weddell Sea, Antarctica). Gyrodactylus antarcticus Gusev, 1967 was found mostly on Trematomus newnesi Boulenger (93 specimens) but also on T. bernacchii Boulenger (one specimen), the latter representing a new host record for this species. Gyrodactylus byrdi Hargis & Dillon, 1968 and G. coriicepsi Rokicka, Lumme & Ziętara, 2009 were recorded on their type hosts, T. newnesi and Notothenia coriiceps Richardson, respectively. Gyrodactylus wilkesi Hargis & Dillon, 1968 was found mostly on the fins of T. bernacchii (29 specimens), but also on T. hansoni Boulenger (one specimen) and T. newnesi (three specimens). The finding of G. wilkesi on T. newnesi represents a new host record. The low number of Gyrodactylus specimens may indicate an accidental infection. The occurence of all four Gyrodactylus species in the Prince Gustav Channel represents a new locality record. According to phylogentic methods, the newly redescribed monogeneans belong to the Antarctic lineage, forming a sister group to North American and European marine Gyrodactylus species, and consist of two species groups, one comprising G. coriicepsi and G. nudifronsi Rokicka, Lumme & Ziętara, 2009, and the other G. anarcticus and G. wilkesi.
The upward evolution of temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula has weakened and even reversed in the last two decades. Due to the long-term variability in the region it is not easy to assess whether recent cooling trends are consistent with the internal variability or not. For this reason, this paper assesses the robustness of the trends by analysing their sensitivity with respect to the period selected. Every possible temperature trend in the interval 1958–2016 has been calculated and displayed in a two-dimensional parameter diagram. The results suggest that the warming observed in the Antarctic Peninsula since 1958 is quite robust, as all periods longer than 30 years exhibit statistically significant changes, especially in summer (with lower magnitude and higher significance) and autumn and winter (with larger magnitude and lower significance). Periods shorter than 30 years exhibit alternations of warming and cooling periods, and therefore do not represent robust trends even if they are statistically significant. Consequently, the recent 20-year cooling trend cannot be considered at the moment as evidence of a shift in the overall sign of the trend.
A conventional Differential GPS (DGPS) techniques-based velocity and acceleration method (named here as ‘DVA’) may be difficult to implement in the Antarctic as there is a sparse distribution of reference stations over Antarctica. Thus, in order to overcome the baseline limitations and to obtain highly accurate and reliable velocity and acceleration estimates for airborne gravimetry, a network-based velocity and acceleration determination approach (named here as ‘NVA’), which introduces a wide network of stations and is independent of precise clock information, is applied. Here its performance for velocity and acceleration determination is fully exploited by using Global Positioning System (GPS), GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou observations. Additionally, a standalone receiver-based method named ‘SVA’, which requires precise clock information, is also implemented for comparison. During static tests and a flight experiment over Antarctica, it was found that the NVA method yields more robust results than the SVA and DVA methods when applied to a wide area network. Moreover, the addition of GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou systems can increase the accuracy of velocity and acceleration estimates by 39% and 43% with NVA compared to a GPS-only solution.
By virtue of the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959, the territorial claims to Antarctica of seven of the original signatories were held in abeyance or “frozen.” Considered by many as an exemplar of international law, the Antarctic Treaty System has come to be increasingly questioned, however, in a very much changed global scenario that presents new challenges to the governance of the White Continent. In this context, it is necessary to gain a clearer understanding of the moral weight of those initial claims, which stand (despite being frozen) as a cornerstone of the treaty. The aim of this article is to offer an appraisal of such claims, which may be divided into two main kinds: those grounded on some relevant link to the territory, and those grounded on official documents and geographical doctrines. After pointing to the limitations and challenges that they face, I conclude with some remarks about how this assessment ought to serve as a starting point to rethink the territorial status of Antarctica.
During the summer Lake Anónima experiences important changes in salinity and lake level fluctuations. Physicochemical data and field observations indicate that evaporative processes are dominant and that the water inflow is mainly provided by snow meltwater and streams. A multiproxy analysis of data from lake bottom sediments suggests that the main surface stream located south-west of the lake controls the clastic input and the spatial variation of sediment composition. Through an integrated analysis (magnetic, X-ray diffraction and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy studies) magnetite and greigite minerals were identified in these lake sediments. Such ferrimagnetic minerals have ultra-fine grain sizes (<0.1 μm). Magnetic parameters and non-magnetic variables analysed by multivariate statistics reveal significant differences between silt facies (e.g. mass-specific susceptibility χ=109.6×10-8 m3 kg-1, remanent coercivity Hcr=49.2 mT and total organic carbon (TOC)=1.11%) and sand facies (e.g. χ=82.1×10-8 m3 kg-1, Hcr=44.7 mT and TOC=0.70%), and four recent depositional sub-environments were identified and characterized in Lake Anónima. This multiparameter analysis contributes to the understanding of present-day lacustrine dynamic and sedimentary processes. Lake Anónima may provide a useful analogue for the interpretation of other lacustrine basins in the Antarctic region.
Some Antarctic littorinoideans have a remarkable convergence with Naticoidea in shell and operculum features. Two naticid-like species of that group are studied in their phenotypic features in order to improve their taxonomy and to discuss the meaning of that convergence, as the former are herbivore-detritivore and the latter active predatory organisms. One of the studied species is the littorinid Laevilacunaria antarctica (Martens, 1885). The other belongs to a new genus – Pseudonatica, with the type species also newly described: P. antarctica, the genus is tentatively placed in Zerotulidae. Another Pseudonatica is also described, P. ampullarica, based only on shells collected by Marion-Dufresne French expedition off Brazilian coast, this finding expands the occurrence of zerotulids northwards. Besides the similarities of shell and operculum, other structures of these Antarctic species also show singular similarities with naticoideans, such as the wide foot, the complexity of opercular attachment in pedal opercular pad, the wide oesophageal gland, and the coiled arrangement of the pallial oviduct. The phenotypic characters were coded and inserted in a previous large phylogenetic analysis on Caenogastropoda (Simone, 2011), furnishing a wide basis for discussion on the characters, taxonomic position, evolution and adaptations of these organisms.
Previous work focused on allozymes and mitochondrial haplotypes has detected high levels of genetic variability between Cryptopygus terranovus populations, a springtail species endemic to Antarctica, until recently named Gressittacantha terranova. This study expands these biogeographical surveys using additional analytical techniques, providing a denser haplotype dataset and a wider sampling of localities. Specimens were collected from 11 sites across Victoria Land and sequenced for the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I mitochondrial gene (cox1). Haplotypes were used for population genetics, demographic, molecular clock and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses. Landscape distribution and clustering of haplotypes were also examined for the first time in this species. Only three (out of 67) haplotypes are shared among populations, suggesting high genetic structure and limited gene flow between sites. As in previous studies, the population of Apostrophe Island has a closer genetic similarity with those of the central sites, rather than with its neighbours. Molecular clock estimates point to early differentiation of haplotypes in the late/mid-Miocene, also supporting the view that C. terranovus is a relict species that survived on the Antarctic continent during the Last Glacial Maximum. The present genetic composition of populations represents a mixture of ancient and more recent haplotypes, sometimes occurring in the same localities.
The predicted increase in liquid water availability in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV), Antarctica, may have profound consequences for nutrient cycling in soil and aquatic ecosystems. Our ability to predict future changes relies on our understanding of current nutrient cycling processes. Multiple hypotheses exist to explain the variability in soil phosphorus content and availability found throughout the MDV region. We analysed 146 surface soil samples from the MDV to determine the relative importance of parent material, landscape age, soil chemistry and texture, and topography on two biologically relevant phosphorus pools, HCl- and NaHCO3-extractable phosphorus. While HCl-extractable phosphorus is highly predicted by parent material, NaHCO3-extractable phosphorus is unrelated to parent material but is significantly correlated with soil conductivity, soil texture and topography. Neither measure of soil phosphorus was related to landscape age across a gradient of ~20 000 to 1 500 000 years. Glacial history has played an important role in the availability of soil phosphorus by shaping patterns of soil texture and parent material. With a predicted increase in water availability, the rate of mineral weathering may increase, releasing more HCl-extractable phosphorus into soil and aquatic ecosystems.
Buried glacier ice is common in the McMurdo Dry Valleys and under ideal climatic and geomorphological conditions may be preserved for multimillion-year timescales. This study focuses on the analysis of ~300 m2 of buried glacier ice in lower Kennar Valley, Quartermain Range. The mapped ice is clean,<10 m thick and covered by a~25 cm sandy drift. The mouth of Kennar Valley is occupied by a lobe of Taylor Glacier, an outlet glacier from Taylor Dome. Based on ice–sediment characteristics, air bubble concentrations and stable isotopic analyses from three ice cores, the lower Kennar Valley ice is glacial in origin. These data coupled with a previously reported exposure age chronology indicate that the buried ice was deposited by a late Pleistocene advance of Taylor Glacier, probably during an interglacial interval. The surface of the buried glacier ice exhibits a patterned ground morphology characterized by small, dome-shaped polygons with deep troughs. This shape possibly reflects the final stages of ice loss, as stagnant, isolated ice pinnacles sublimate in place. This study highlights how polygon morphology can be used to infer the thickness of clean buried ice and its geomorphological stability throughout Antarctica, as well as other in cold, arid landscapes.
Ground ice is one of the most important and dynamic geologic components of permafrost; however, few studies have investigated the distribution and origin of ground ice in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. In this study, ice-bearing permafrost cores were collected from 18 sites in University Valley, a small hanging glacial valley in the Quartermain Mountains. Ground ice was found to be ubiquitous in the upper 2 m of permafrost soils, with excess ice contents reaching 93%, but ground ice conditions were not homogeneous. Ground ice content was variable within polygons and along the valley floor, decreasing in the centres of polygons and increasing in the shoulders of polygons towards the mouth of the valley. Ground ice also had different origins: vapour deposition, freezing of partially evaporated snow meltwater and buried glacier ice. The variability in the distribution and origin of ground ice can be attributed to ground surface temperature and moisture conditions, which separate the valley into distinct zones. Ground ice of vapour-deposition origin was predominantly situated in perennially cryotic zones, whereas ground ice formed by the freezing of evaporated snow meltwater was predominantly found in seasonally non-cryotic zones.
Supraglacial streams are important hydrologic features in glaciated environments as they are conduits for the transport of aeolian debris, meltwater, solutes and microbial communities. We characterized the basic geomorphology, hydrology and biogeochemistry of the Cotton Glacier supraglacial stream located in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. The distinctive geomorphology of the stream is driven by accumulated aeolian sediment from the Transantarctic Mountains, while solar radiation and summer temperatures govern melt in the system. The hydrologic functioning of the Cotton Glacier stream is largely controlled by the formation of ice dams that lead to vastly different annual flow regimes and extreme flushing events. Stream water is chemically dilute and lacks a detectable humic signature. However, the fluorescent signature of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the stream does demonstrate an extremely transitory red-shifted signal found only in near-stream sediment leachates and during the initial flushing of the system at the onset of flow. This suggests that episodic physical flushing drives pulses of DOM with variable quality in this stream. This is the first description of a large Antarctic supraglacial stream and our results provide evidence that the hydrology and geomorphology of supraglacial streams drive resident microbial community composition and biogeochemical cycling.