Antarctica

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Antarctica

  1. 1. The World’s Last Great Wilderness (Antarctica) Dr Julian Paren Schools Liaison Officer British Antarctic Survey Talk at RGS 8 February 2001 Visit www.worldofteaching.com For 100’s of free powerpoints
  2. 2. The Antarctic continent <ul><li>Coldest, driest, windiest, highest, and least accessible continent </li></ul><ul><li>Winter population 1000 people, 10,000 in summer </li></ul><ul><li>10,000 tourists visit for a few days in summer </li></ul><ul><li>Ice covered for the last 25 million years </li></ul><ul><li>Less than 1% of continent is ice free </li></ul><ul><li>Once the home of dinosaurs, trees and plants </li></ul><ul><li>An insect is the “lion” of the Antarctic </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Southern Ocean <ul><li>Fifty million seals & 15 million penguins </li></ul><ul><li>Regional fishery of global economic value </li></ul><ul><li>History of over-exploitation. Seals, whales. penguins and fish </li></ul><ul><li>Fishery for krill and fish regulated by science-backed international body under Antarctic Treaty </li></ul><ul><li>Pirate fishing due to lack of effective policing </li></ul><ul><li>Decline of albatross due to mortality on long lines of tuna fishermen in sub-Tropics </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Antarctic Treaty <ul><li>Antarctica is “a natural reserve devoted to peace and science” </li></ul><ul><li>The Antarctic Treaty manages the region’s wildlife </li></ul><ul><li>Mining is forbidden </li></ul><ul><li>The Treaty runs indefinitely </li></ul><ul><li>Forty-four countries have acceded to the Antarctic Treaty (80% of the world population) </li></ul><ul><li>All 44 countries have to agree to Treaty revisions </li></ul>
  5. 5. “ Green” fallacies about the Antarctic <ul><li>The Antarctic Treaty expires in 50 years </li></ul><ul><li>Mining is only banned for 50 years </li></ul><ul><li>Antarctica is under threat from developers </li></ul><ul><li>People working in the Antarctic have polluted the continent </li></ul><ul><li>Antarctica still has to be saved </li></ul><ul><li>Penguins fall over backwards when planes fly overhead! </li></ul>
  6. 6. Home truths from the Antarctic <ul><li>The Antarctic is the most rigorously protected region of the world </li></ul><ul><li>The protection is legally backed </li></ul><ul><li>International inspection teams monitor compliance with the Antarctic Treaty </li></ul><ul><li>Man’s footprint on Antarctica is practically invisible </li></ul><ul><li>More “pollution” enters the region through the atmosphere than is generated there (DDT, CFCs ) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Antarctic discoveries <ul><li>The destruction of the ozone layer </li></ul><ul><li>A 400,000 year demonstration of the link between greenhouse gases and climate </li></ul><ul><li>The global impact of the Industrial Revolution </li></ul><ul><li>A reduction of the height of the ionosphere consistent with “global warming” </li></ul><ul><li>Lakes beneath the Antarctic ice sheet believed to contain life forms possibly millions of years old </li></ul>
  8. 8. Antarctica is part of the world <ul><li>The Earth system involves the whole Earth </li></ul><ul><li>Antarctic studies are essential </li></ul><ul><li>There can be no weak link in understanding the Earth system </li></ul><ul><li>Climate feedbacks involving ice, snow, sea ice and ocean currents provide the greatest challenges in predicting the future </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Arctic <ul><li>Contains cities, towns and universities </li></ul><ul><li>Indigenous population share the region with new settlers </li></ul><ul><li>All Arctic land is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state </li></ul><ul><li>UK scientists regularly work in the Arctic </li></ul><ul><li>There is far more science activity in the Arctic compared to the Antarctic </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Antarctic ice sheet <ul><li>Ice up to three miles (4500 m) thick </li></ul><ul><li>Coldest surface temperature -89 degrees C </li></ul><ul><li>Enough ice for each person in the world to have a block 180 m by 180 m by 180 m </li></ul><ul><li>If all melted, sea level could rise 65 metres </li></ul><ul><li>If all the glaciers doubled their speed of flow it would take 12,000 years for the ice to float into the Southern Ocean </li></ul>
  11. 11. Antarctic ice and sea level rise <ul><li>A small change in the size of the Antarctic ice sheet would be serious for sea level </li></ul><ul><li>One small part of Antarctica is above freezing in the summer - the Antarctic Peninsula. </li></ul><ul><li>The Antarctic Peninsula is warming and its coastline is changing </li></ul><ul><li>Maps of Antarctica need updating regularly because of the changes to the coastline </li></ul><ul><li>The disintegration of ice shelves from the Antarctic Peninsula has had no effect on sea level </li></ul><ul><li>Most of Antarctica is not warming </li></ul><ul><li>In a warmer world more snow will fall over the Antarctic </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced Antarctic snowfall is possibly the only natural way that sea level rise can be slowed </li></ul>
  12. 12. Future developments in Antarctica <ul><li>Exploring the largest lake under the ice sheet </li></ul><ul><li>Obtaining a reliable climate record over half a million years </li></ul><ul><li>Exploiting natural “antifreeze” in Antarctic organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Studying the effects of increased UV-radiation and “global warming” on Antarctic life </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrating the centenaries of the historic expeditions of Scott, Shackleton and Bruce </li></ul>
  13. 13. Antarctic Schools Pack <ul><li>Fifteen sections : each with worksheet and tasks and resources for multiple photocopying </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers notes </li></ul><ul><li>Sent free to every UK secondary school </li></ul><ul><li>Aimed at A-level standard </li></ul><ul><li>Written by British Antarctic Survey scientists and an educational advisor </li></ul><ul><li>Published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office </li></ul>
  14. 14. Antarctic Schools Pack <ul><li>The nature of Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>Discovery of Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>Living and working in Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>Science in Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>The Antarctic Treaty System </li></ul><ul><li>Geology in Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>Antarctic ice </li></ul><ul><li>The Antarctic climate </li></ul><ul><li>The ozone hole </li></ul><ul><li>Geospace </li></ul><ul><li>Terrestrial and freshwater lake ecosystems </li></ul><ul><li>Marine ecosystems </li></ul><ul><li>Management and conservation of marine species </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental protection of Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>Tourism in Antarctica </li></ul>
  15. 15. Feedback on Antarctic Schools Pack <ul><li>“ An essential resource for school or college” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Packed with a variety of up-to-date and relevant information that can be used flexibly in the classroom” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mori” poll voted it one of the best four resources available for study of environmental change </li></ul><ul><li>Received Gold Award of Geographical Association in Spring 2000 </li></ul>
  16. 16. Future teaching resources on Antarctica <ul><li>BAS has signed a partnership agreement with the Geographical Association </li></ul><ul><li>First priority is to develop a Work Package at GCSE level on Antarctica </li></ul><ul><li>Propose to develop materials for Primary Schools </li></ul><ul><li>BAS welcomes feedback on the Schools Pack </li></ul><ul><li>BAS will develop www.antarctica.ac.uk </li></ul>
  17. 17. Resources on the web <ul><li>www.antarctica ac.uk (British Antarctic Survey) </li></ul><ul><li>www.asoc.org (The Antarctica Project) </li></ul><ul><li>www.antarctic.com.au (Antarctic Adventure) </li></ul><ul><li>www.aad.gov.au/goingsouth/tourism/news (tourism) </li></ul><ul><li>http://files.fco.gov.uk/info/briefs/antarctic.pdf (Britain and Antarctica briefing document) </li></ul><ul><li>news.bbc.co.uk (search for “Antarctic”) </li></ul>

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