Flashcards in Antarctica Deck (60):
Antarctica is the driest continent because...
Its' annual precipitation is 50mm- polar desert
Antarctica is the windiest continent because...
Smooth Antarctic surface allows for fast winds not slowed by surface friction
Antarctica is the coldest continent because...
Average temperature is -49oc (feels colder due to wind chill)
Antarctica is the highest continent because...
Ice thickness adds to elevation- average height of 2,300m
Mt Vinson is 4,892m high
Opposite of accumulation
Processes that remove snow, ice, and water from a glacier or snowfield
(i.e. evaporation, melting of snow, ice running off a glacier, removal of snow by wind)
An exposed, often rock element of ridge, mountain or peak not covered with ice or snow within (or at the edge of) an ice field or glacier
Antarctic Convergence Zone
A natural boundary separating 2 distinct hydrological regions, areas of distinct climate, areas of distinct wildlife
Why does the Antarctic Convergence Zone vary seasonally?
Due to the expansion and contraction of sea ice
Salt water moving along gradients creates the global thermohaline circulation
Water moves from hot to cold (convection)
Changes in salinity accelerate these changes
2 main factors that have increased the threat Antarctica faces
Technology- we can now get there
Greater demand for resources- exploiting Antarctica is now economically viable
What are the 4 main threats Antarctica faces?
Fishing and Whaling
Tourism and Scientific Research
Climate Change: Which parts of Antarctica are cooling?
Which parts aren't?
East is cooling- not near the coastal parts due to the ocean being a radiator
West is melting- likely the East will grow as the West melts
Climate Change: What is the melting of the Antarctic Peninsula causing?
Positive dieback- loss of ice shelves has caused ice to speed up in land
Climate Change: How many tonnes of ice have been lost each year since 1993?
By how much have global sea levels increased as a result?
100 billion tonnes each year
Increased global sea levels by 0.2mm a year
Climate Change: What will partly offset the increase in the rate of ice melt?
Increased snow fall
Climate Change: By how much has Southern Ocean temperatures increased since 1995?
Climate Change: What impacts has the Southern Ocean warming more quickly that the oceans globally had?
Change in distribution of penguin colonies
Snow and ice melt has increased plant colonisation
Decline in abundance of Antarctic krill
Some glaciers and ice shelves have retreated
Climate Change: Although the melting of ice shelves doesn't contribute to sea level rise, how do they cause it?
Rate of flow of glaciers behind the ice shelves increases
These glaciers melt = sea level rise
Climate Change: Why might sea ice be expanding on the eastern side of Antarctica?
More snow and rain are layering the Southern Ocean with a cooler, denser top
More storms causes local waters to become less salty, which raises the temperature needed for ice to form
Melting of continental land ice creates floating icebergs- contributes to sea ice formation
Climate Change: What is the problem with the carbonic acid that would be created with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide?
Oceans would become a little more acidic
Could potentially corrode unprotected shells and skeletons- problems with food chain
Climate Change: How will krill be impacted?
Sea ice is vital for the survival of newly hatched krill as it provides protection- a loss of sea ice will impact their population
Ocean acidification is also likely to impact hatching rates
Declining krill population will impact seals and penguins
Climate Change: Why would some argue global trade/ globalisation was responsible for climate change?
Global trade has increased movement of goods- increased fossil fuel consumption
(Antarctica doesn't benefit from this trade at all, it is instead impacted by the pollution and waste generated from the trade)
Fishing and Whaling: Why were krill so heavily fished around Antarctica?
Fishing restrictions implemented in Northern Hemisphere, so major fishing companies moved south
In 2007 catch allowance was increased by nearly 600%
Fishing and Whaling: Negative feedback loop created from over fishing of krill
Leopard seals would die as not enough food
(Causes economic loss as tourist potential lost)
Fishing and Whaling: Positive feedback look created from over fishing of krill
Less krill to eat phytoplankton so population increases
(Too many and they block out light for species underneath, resulting in those species dying)
Fishing and Whaling: When did whaling begin in this area?
Fishing and Whaling: Where was the whale processing station located?
Fishing and Whaling: When was commercial whaling banned?
Fishing and Whaling: Why do many argue Japan exploits its 'scientific' whaling?
Collected 935 minke and 50 endangered fin whales in 2008
Mineral Exploitation: Where is there a large amount of coal?
On the coast and in the mountains
Mineral Exploitation: How many barrels of oil do the Ross and Weddell Seas combined hold?
50 billion barrels of oil
Mineral Exploitation: Why will the relatively small amounts of coal in Antarctica soon become economically viable?
There is a high current global demand for energy and minerals
Tourism and Scientific Research: How many permanent scientific bases are there?
Means resources have to be flown or shipped in
Tourism and Scientific Research: What happened with the Argentine navy transport ship in the late 20th century?
It ran aground
Released 250,000 gallons of fuel
Sea birds and krill were killed
(This was a relatively contained oil spill)
Tourism and Scientific Research: What disturbs bird populations?
What will worsen this?
Will be worsened if Australia opened their runway for tourism
Tourism and Scientific Research: What are the risks posed from tourism?
Contamination and spread of disease
Due to tourist numbers increasing, and little management (as not owned by one nation)
Tourism and Scientific Research: What's a positive of tourism?
Some profits from cruises donated to NGO's
Helps protect Antarctica in the future
When was the Antarctic Treaty signed?
When was it enforced from?
Enforced from 1961
Key points from Antarctica Treaty articles
Avoids conflict and unnecessary experimentation
Makes countries communicate
Avoids overexploitation on land- not the seas however
Countries assume legislation is for the common good
What is the Antarctic Treaty System?
A combination of the Antarctic Treaty and other related systems
They hold annual meetings
IWC: What caused the issue of whaling to be first publicly broadcast?
How did the public respond?
Greenpeace protesters confronting whaling fleets on the high seas
Demand for whale began to rapidly reduce
IWC: What is the purpose of the International Whaling Commission?
Conservation of whales and the management of whaling
IWC: When was the global whaling moratorium imposed?
When are whales still allowed to be killed?
For scientific purposes
IWC: Advantages of the moratorium?
Everyone in the whaling industry lost out equally- no bias
Whale populations have been able to recover
Easy to spot someone whaling
IWC: Disadvantages of the moratorium?
Hard to monitor the whole of the Southern Ocean
Some argue that everyone has the right to use Antarctica as it is a global common
IWC: Problems of Japan's abuse of the system
Other nations may follow
Around 300 whales killed each year
IWC: When was the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary established?
IWC: Why was the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary established?
Provide whales with a refuge from whaling
Allows species to recover from serious overexploitation
IWC: Long term aims of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
Develop non-lethal research
Provide economic benefits i.e. whale watching
Increase public awareness of the vulnerability of marine ecosystems
Allow whale populations to recover by protecting their feeding and breeding grounds
IWC: Successes of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
Covers most of the Southern Ocean
Non-lethal research means less whales need to be killed in the future
Raises public awareness
Protects feeding and breeding grounds
Finds other economic uses for whales- gives ex-whalers a job
IWC: Failures of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
Hasn't stopped Japan as doesn't protect against scientific whaling
Doesn't protect whales outside the protection area
Difficult to monitor such a large area
Only protects areas that are important now which may change with climate change, leaving whales unprotected
Why have NGO's like SCAR and ASOC been set up?
Do the work governments can't/ won't do
Don't have an agenda
Purpose of Scientific Committee on Antarctica Research
In charge of initiation, promotion, and co-ordination of research on Antarctica
Provide independent scientific advice to inform the Antarctic Treaty System
ASOC: Why was the Antarctica and Southern Ocean Coalition set up?
When was it set up?
Created so NGO's could have a greater influence on governments at the world stage
ASOC: Examples of NGOs involved
Over 30, including:
Friends of the Earth
ASOC: What does their work mainly focus on?
ASOC: What 3 main campaigns is it currently focusing on?
Sustainable management of Southern Ocean Fisheries
Establishing a network of marine reserves, including Marine Protected Area status for the Ross Sea
Negotiating a legally binding Polar Code covering all vessels operating in the Southern Ocean
Only NGO working full time to preserve Antarctica and the Southern Ocean
Powerful as it consists of over 30 NGOs
Helps raise public awareness about threats to Antarctica and encourages government involvement
Difficult to monitor the whole of the large area they protect
Work on a lot of projects- don't focus all of their energy in one place