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Section 3


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  • 1. Section 3 Antarctica
  • 2. The Land
      • Ice covers 98% of Antarctica’s 5.4 million square miles
      • 90% of world’s ice; sheets are more than 1 mile thick
      • Ice sheets flow slowly off the continent & form an ice shelf when they reach the coast; icebergs often break away and drift into the ocean
        • Ross Ice Shelf is the size of France
        • One recent iceberg the size of Luxembourg
      • Antarctic Peninsula
        • Temps often warmer than other parts of the continent
  • 3. Climate & Resources
    • Mostly freezing ice-cap climate
      • Temp below -120 degrees F w/ little precipitation
    • Polar desert: high latitude region that receives little precipitation
      • Less precipitation than Sahara Desert
    • Planet’s coldest, driest, highest, & windiest continent
    • remains totally dark in winter
    • In summer the sun never sets
    • Temps can drop as low as -120 degrees F
    • Tundra plant life survives in ice free areas
    • A few insects are the land’s only land animals
    • Penguins, seals, & whales live in the icy waters
  • 4. Resources
    • Iron ore, gold, copper, & coal
    • Debate over whether resources should be mined
      • Mining would harm continent’s environment
      • Worthwhile for businesses
  • 5. Early Explorers
    • 177 James Cook sighted icebergs around Antarctica
    • 1800s explorers investigated Antarctica
      • Motive was to discover South Pole
      • Norwegian explorers were 1 st human expedition to reach South Pole in 1911
    • Parts of Antarctica have been claimed by countries
      • U.S., Australia, & China
    • Antarctic Treaty of 1959
      • agreement reached to preserve Antarctica for science & peace
      • Prevented claims to the continent & banned military activity & made whole continent a research area
  • 6. Antarctica Today
    • Only continent without permanent human population
    • Researchers only people who live in Antarctica
      • Live in bases or stations
    • Research covers wide range of topics
      • Plant and animal life of Antarctica, weather conditions, Earth’s ozone layer
  • 7. Air Pollution
    • Studies show that carbon dioxide levels in the air have risen over time
      • Discovered by studying gases trapped in old Antarctic ice & compared them to gases in the Earth’s atmosphere today
      • Some believe this is causing global warming
    • Some scientists are looking for evidence that air pollution is damaging Earth’s ozone layer
  • 8. Environmental Threats
    • Tourists & researchers have left behind trash & oil spills have occurred
    • Oil spills have damaged surrounding seas
    • In 1991 an international agreement was reached forbidding most activities in Antarctica that do not have a scientific purpose
      • Bans mining & drilling & limits tourism