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Antarctica Case Study
Facts and Figures
Largest wilderness area on earth,
Covers 14 million km squared so it is larger than Europe.
90% of ice on earth.
70% of earths fresh water supplies.
The Antarctic ice sheet covers most of the landmass all year round.
The highest continent,
o With an average height of 2300metres.
Antarctic peninsula temperatures have
o Risen by about 2.5 degrees since the 1940's.
The ice sheet covers most of the landmass of Antarctica all year round.
The sheet extends into the sea
The ice masses that extend out over the sea are called ice shelves
The two largest are called Ross shelf and Ronne shelf.
Chunks of ice can become detached forming icebergs.
There are several islands off the coast of Antarctica e.g. Elephant Island.
Why is a fragile ecosystem?
Very little available water to allow plants to grow,
o Inland areas receive less than 166mm of precipitation per year and most if
Very cold average temp -49
Very little sunshine in winter due to the tilt of the earth.
o Meaning that very few plants and animals can survive there, the ones that do
have to adapt to the climate.
Plant life is mainly made up of mosses and lichen.
Abundant bird life e.g. albatross and penguins.
The land environment is very fragile and takes time to recover from damage.
Abundant sea life, e.g. fish, seals and whales.
Sea eco-system is also fragile
Why is Antarctica a valuable resource?
Around 300 species of fish, 8 species of whale
o The Weddell and Ross seas are both rich in fish.
Very attractive scenery
There are large underground deposits of coal and iron ore found in the
Large reserves of oil under the southern ocean around Antarctica.
Meaning that it is a good area for fishing, tourism mining and oil extraction.
Good for scientific research
The Antarctic Treaty
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No native people
o No one can claim the land causing conflict.
Development would be devastating on the fragile environment
Antarctic treaty was set up in 1961
12 countries agreed to set aside disputes over who owns Antarctica and come up
with laws to protect.
Treaty includes protocols and conventions that control or prohibit activities.…read more
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For example no more than 100 passengers are allowed on shore in one place
at a time
o Only one ship allowed at a landing site at a time
Not everyone thinks tourism should be allowed
The number of tourists has increased in 2006, 37,000 tourists visited Antarctica
which is an increase of 14% from 2005
Adventure Network International allows people to climb mountains and walk the