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Human activity in the Antarctic
Transcript of Human activity in the Antarctic
Where is it?
i.e. the South Pole
also referred to as the Southern Ocean
Label the following:
South Pole (with height above sea level)
Why is it fragile and unique environment?
How did early explorers exploit the Antarctic?
Recent developments in the Antarctic, and how are they being sustainable?
Locked in its four kilometre-thick ice sheet is a unique record of what our planet's climate was like over the past one million years.
The discovery in 1985 by scientists at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) of the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica revealed the damage done to the Earth's atmosphere by man-made chemicals.
Due to the lack of interference by humans for millions of years, any changes to the planet are clearly visible
It is home to rare and unique species of animals (no land animals) e.g. Weddell Seal, Orca, Rockhopper Penguins, Leopard Seals
It is home to rare species of plants. Majority of land is covered by permanent ice and snow with only 1% suitable for plant colonization
There are no trees or shrubs. There is only 2 species of flowering plant (Antartcic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort) which are native to the continent, and many lichens
Therefore if climate changes abruptly, it affects the habitats for unique plants and animals
From 1791 to 1822, whole island populations of fur and elephant seals were eradicated. The removal of such large numbers of these higher order predators of fish, squid and krill must have had a substantial effect on the marine ecosystem
Between 1904 and 1986, commercial whaling occurred on an even larger scale, resulting in further significant modification to Southern Ocean marine ecosystems. There was the loss of 1.5 million whales from the Southern Ocean
See handouts on tourism, sealing and whaling
There are few places in the world where there has never been war, where the environment is fully protected, and where scientific research has priority. But there is a whole continent like this - it is the land the Antarctic Treaty parties call "... a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science".
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 by the twelve nations that had been active during the IGY (International Geophysical Year - a multinational scientific research program). These were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and Russia.
The Treaty now has 46 signatories
What do these countries agree to?
No single country owns Antarctica. Instead, countries wishing to have a say in how the Antarctic (both the continent itself and the surrounding Southern Ocean) is governed must sign on to, and agree to abide by, the Antarctic Treaty