Unit 1: Conservation Abroad - Antarctica

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  • Antarctica
    • Ecological Features
      • 98% covered by ice and snow
      • Average temperature of -49 Celsius
      • Earth's biggest desert
      • Few terrestrial organisms are present
      • Upwellings of nutrient rich water supports rich wood web based on krill and phytoplankton
      • Species include fish. penguins, seals and squid
      • Sea is warmer than land -1.8-3.5 Celsius
    • Importance
      • Ice regulates sea levels by storing water
      • High albedo of ice reduces heating of atmosphere
      • Phytoplankton is a carbon sink - controls global warming
    • Threats
      • Global climate change - ice melting leads to iceberg formation which can starve krill that rely on the algae on the underside of the ice
      • Ozone depletion - marine plankton sensitive to UV light
      • Increasing numbers of tourists disturb wildlife, cause waste disposal and may spread diseases to animals
      • Overfishing krill and fish threatens species that rely on them
      • Pressure to exploit minerals will increase with depletion elsewhere
      • Scientific reasearch - fuel spills, waste disposal and buildings threaten the habitat and ecosystem
    • Conservation Methods: Antarctic Treaty - 1959
      • Land may only be used for peacful purposes
      • Free exchange of scientific information
      • Nuclear explosions and radioactive waste disposal banned
      • Commercial mineral exploitation banned
      • Conservation of organisms of priority
      • Environmental impact of tourism monitored

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