Nav: Home

Human 'footprint' on Antarctica measured for first time

March 04, 2019

Buildings alone cover more than 390 000 square metres of land while the visual footprint - the areas from which human activity can be seen - extends to more than 93 000 square kilometres.

The lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Sustainability, IMAS PhD student Shaun Brooks, said measuring the area impacted by humans was important for Antarctic conservation and environmental management.

"Although the 53 countries that have signed the Antarctic Treaty agreed to protect the Antarctic environment, until now there has been only limited data on the spatial extent of human activity on the continent," Mr Brooks said.

"Our research shows that human impacts are the greatest on land that is also the most environmentally sensitive - ice free areas within a few kilometres of the coast.

"Ice-free land supports the continent's greatest diversity of flora and fauna, including iconic species such as Adelie penguins, and provides the most accessible areas for marine animals that breed on land.

"We found that 81 per cent of the buildings in the Antarctic are located within just 0.44 per cent of the land that is free of ice."

Mr Brooks said future increases in research activity and tourism were expected to put further human pressure on the continent in coming years.

"The data we have collected can be used to inform decision-making on Antarctic conservation and environmental management, as well as to track future impacts and changes.

"It may also serve to encourage greater coordination and sharing of facilities between nations and users accessing Antarctica, to help limit the human footprint.

"There is a growing tension between the increasing pressure for access to the continent and international commitments to protect the Antarctic environment.

"Hopefully our research can help to inform a sustainable balance between these competing imperatives," Mr Brooks said.
-end-


University of Tasmania

Related Antarctic Articles:

Benthos in the Antarctic Weddell Sea in decline
Over the past quarter-century, changes in Antarctic sea-ice cover have had profound impacts on life on the ocean floor.
Plastic pollution reaching the Antarctic
Food wrapping, fishing gear and plastic waste continue to reach the Antarctic.
Challenge and desire in Antarctic meteorology and climate
The outcomes of the 13th and 14th Workshop on Antarctic Meteorology and Climate (WAMC), as well as the 3rd and 4th Year of Polar Prediction (YOPP) Meetings, was discussed in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
Antarctic ice walls protect the climate
Inland Antarctic ice contains volumes of water that can raise global sea levels by several metres.
Quo vadis Antarctic bottom water?
The formation of deep water, which is an important component of the climate system, takes place in only a few parts of the ocean: In the subpolar North Atlantic and in a few places in the Southern Hemisphere.
Antarctic waters: Warmer with more acidity and less oxygen
The increased freshwater from melting Antarctic ice sheets plus increased wind has reduced the amount of oxygen in the Southern Ocean and made it more acidic and warmer, according to new research led by University of Arizona geoscientists.
Malaria could be felled by an Antarctic sea sponge
The frigid waters of the Antarctic may yield a treatment for a deadly disease that affects populations in some of the hottest places on earth.
Stardust in the Antarctic snow
The rare isotope iron-60 is created in massive stellar explosions.
24% of West Antarctic ice is now unstable
In only 25 years, ocean melting has caused ice thinning to spread across West Antarctica so rapidly that a quarter of its glacier ice is now affected, according to a new study.
Antarctic snowfall dominated by a few extreme snowstorms
A new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reveals the importance of a small number of intense storms around Antarctica in controlling the amount of snow falling across the continent.
More Antarctic News and Antarctic Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.