If we are going to talk about ice, the Antarctic is the place that comes right into our minds. We can perceive that it is a region in the Southern pole that is covered with ice and is not inhabited by human beings. To give a more thorough discussion about this place, let us proceed to the following.
Defining the Antarctic
The Antarctic refers to the polar region that surrounds the South Pole of Earth. It is simply the opposite of the Arctic region, which can be found on the North Pole. The Antarctic is composed of the continent of Antarctica, Kerguelen Plateau, islands, and other territories on the Antarctic plate or also called the south of Antarctic Convergence.
Also, the Antarctic region has waters, ice shelves, and other island territories in the Southern Ocean at the southern Antarctic Convergence. It is approximately 32 to 48 km wide that varies on seasonal latitude. Another thing, the region covers almost 20% of the Southern Hemisphere, wherein 5.5% is the Antarctic continent itself as its surface area. All of the ice shelves and land at 600S latitude south are administered by the Antarctic Treaty System. This says that biogeographically, the realm of the Antarctic is 1/8 of the Earth’s biogeographic realms or land surface.
As per the definition of the Antarctic Treaty System, the region of Antarctic is everything 600S latitude south. It then gave Antarctica the land cover for the South Orkney Islands archipelago, Peter I Island, Balleny Islands, Scott Island, and the South Shetland Islands. However, the Antarctic Convergence isn’t included in the area. It’s the transition zone where the Northern warm water collides with the cold waters of the Southern Ocean. This then forms the natural border of the region.
Due to the seasonal changes in the convergence, the Convention for the Conversation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) concluded that the convergence line joins definite points along the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude. The convention implementation is managed by an international commission that has to headquarter in Hobart, Australia. This is made possible by the efficient annual quota system, international inspectors on fishing vessels, satellite surveillance, as well as licenses.
Moreover, the islands found between the 600S latitude parallel to the Antarctic convergence from the south and the north with their respective nautical mile, which is 200 exclusive economic zones fall on the national jurisdiction possessed by countries including the South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia (United Kingdom; an EU Overseas Territory); Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia); and Bouvet Island (Norway).
There is also the Kerguelen Islands (France; an EU Overseas Territory), which can be found at the area of Antarctic Convergence while the Isla de Los Estados, Cape Horn, Falkland Islands, Homos Island, Diego Ramirez Islands, Prince Edward Islands, Campbell Island, Saint Paul Islands, Amsterdam, Gough Island, Crozet Islands, and Tristan da Cunha Group remain north of the convergence and are outside the region of Antarctic.
Some may not believe it, yet several animals can live and strive in the cold islands of the Antarctic for at least a year. Given that, here is the list of the animals:
- Antarctic Krill
- Fish (Antarctic Tooth Fish, and Antarctic Ice Fish)
- Antarctic Petrels
- Squid such as the Colossal Squid
- South Georgia Pipits
- Killer Whales
Permanently, most of the Antarctic continent is submerged in deep snow and ice that leaves only 1% of land exposed. For the flowering plants, this kind of place allows only two species: the Antarctic Pearl Wort and the Antarctic Hair Grass. However, there are still ranges of lichens, liverworts, mosses, and macrofungi that can also strive in this continent.
On the low islands, there is biodiversity to be found among terrestrial fauna and flora. Several studies have already given theories that due to this harsh climate, became a major contributor to support these species’ richness; however, there are multiple correlations found. This involves the temperature, area, food chain stability, and remoteness of islands. One example of this is a herbivorous insect that is in a poor population since there is only a low percentage of plant richness. With that, there is also an indigenous bird number since, as related to the insects, the food source is limited.
The Antarctic is regarded as the host of the largest protected area of the world comprised of a 1.07 km2 landmass. The South Sandwich Islands Marie Protection Area and South Georgia were created way back in 2012. The latter exceeds another protected, vast territory that exceeds the surface area. It is Greenland’s National Park’s 972,000 km.
South Georgia was the first land in the Antarctic discovered and visited in 1675 by an English merchant named Anthony de la Roche. Although speculations and myths about the Southern Land date back to antiquity, the very first confirmed the view of the Antarctic continent was accepted commonly in 1820 by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, Mirny, and Mikhail Lazarev on Vostok through their Russian expedition. Also, James Kerguelen Robinson, who is an Australian, was the firstborn human in the Antarctic as he was on board of Offley- a sealing ship in the Gulf of Morbihan. This then made the Kerguelen Island officially named after him in March 1859. Solveig Gunborj Jacobsen, on the other hand, was also the firstborn human on an Antarctic island in October 1913 at Grytviken, South Georgia.
The region of the Antarctic had no recorded indigenous population when it was discovered for the first time. As of now, the present inhabitants are a few transient scientists and personnel that works on duty tours at several research stations put by various countries. However, around 40,000 tourists visit this place, especially the most popular destinations in South Georgia Island, South Shetland Islands, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Additionally, the tourism growth during December 2009 resulted in ecology and the travellers’ safety in the remote and great wilderness. It was noted by the experts in New Zealand from signatories to the Antarctic Treaty. In May 2010, the results of the conference were presented during the states’ meeting in Uruguay entitled Antarctic Treaty.