Antarctica

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  • Antarctica
    • The Southern Ocean was a new introduced ocean in 2000
      • 60 degrees in Latitude and 360 degrees of Longitude
    • The Antarctic Convergence Zone is where Northward flowing waters from the Antarctic meet warmer Sub-Antarctic waters
      • Around 32-48km wide but can vary seasonally
      • Cold northward Antarctic waters sink beneath Sub Antarctic waters
      • High productivity- especially Krill
      • The natural boundary in the Southern Ocean with a dividing line looping around the Antarctic Continent
    • Antarctic Circumpolar Region- flows Eastwards due to Westerly winds blocking warm water travelling South. Known as the West Wind Drift
    • Antarctic Divergence- a lesser current flowing Westwards, blown by Easterly winds
    • Physical Geography
      • Dry Valleys of Antarctica
      • The Transantarctic Mountains
    • Areas of Debate
      • Fishing and Whaling
        • Fishing has replaced whaling as the primary contemporary economic focus in recent years
          • Russian and Japanese exploitation of the Southern Ocean have caused serious overfishing concerns in relation to krill and rock cod
            • Conservation is essential
        • There was Norweigan, British and American exploitation of Blue and Right Whales for Baleen
          • By 1985, stocks were so low that commercial whaling had to be stopped
      • Climate Change
        • East Antartica's ice sheet is thickening- warmer seas increase evaporation to condense into cloud droplets and fall as extra snow
        • The Antarctic Peninsula is most sensitive to climate change and in the past 60 years, temperatures every decade have risen by 0.5C
          • The melting of the ice shelf means land based ice is no longer restrained so will slide into the sea
      • Tourism and Scientific research
        • 33,000 tourists and 70,000 researchers visit Antarctica every year
        • Tourists can disturb wildlife, drop litter and trample plants
        • Tourists could introduce non native species or diseases to the area
    • Antarctica is a global common so has no government to manage it
      • Antarctic Treaty system (ATS) was signed in Dec 1959 by 12 nations which is an agreement not to recognise, dispute or establish further claims of territorial sovereignty over Antarctica
        • It would guarantee free access and research rights to all countries
          • Prohibit military activity e.g nuclear bomb tests
          • Ban the dumping of nuclear waste
        • 52 countries have now signed up to the ATS which has a growing membership
        • On June 1st 2016, 29 countries unanimously renewed their commitment to a ban on mining activities in Antarctica
        • The protocol will expire in 2048
        • Proclaims Antarctica is a 'natural reserve devoted to peace and science'
    • Issues associated with protecting Antartica
      • SCAR- Scientific committee (of) Antarctic research
        • Researches the survival of species, the maintenance of biodiversity and the ability of species to recover from shock events
        • To recover from severe disturbance by resisting damage and returning to an equilibrium
        • The ability to recover from shock events, disturbances and ongoing change
        • The ability to bounce back links to adaption to changing conditions
          • Endemic species generally survive shock events by allowing their populations to rebuild
      • Mitigation
        • intervention by humans to eliminate or reduce risk hazards presented by a natural or physical induced phenomenon
        • Fundamental in responding to climate change- there are consistently changing carbon footprints as we use more resources than are put back
        • Can only be undertaken by protecting the existing environment and by monitoring any change
      • Antarctic treaty system
        • Signed in Washington on Dec 1st 1959, entered into force June 23rd 1961
        • originally 12 signatory nations but as of 2015 there are now 52
        • Recognizing that it is in the interest of all making that Antarctica will forever continue to be used exclusively for peace
        • Acknowledging the substantial contributions to scientific knowledge resulting from international cooperation
        • Convinced that the establishment of a firm foundation for the continuation and development of such cooperation on the basis of freedom of scientific investigation is applied
        • Convinced that a treaty ensuring the use of Antartica for a peaceful purpose only will further the purposes and principles
        • The wider ATS is governed by the Antarctic Treaty consultative meetings (ATCM)
      • Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty 1991 (the Madrid Protocol)
        • Started following a lengthy campaign by GreenPeace including the construction of an Antarctic base from 1987-1991. Greenpeace claims the protocol a victory
        • Agree in 1991, came to force in 1998
        • Purpose was to protect Antarctica for 50 years from commercial exploitation primarily of it's mineral wealth
      • Issues for debate
        • Mining
        • Liability

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