Antarctica: An Encyclopedia from Abbott Ice Shelf to Zooplankton

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9781552975909: Antarctica: An Encyclopedia from Abbott Ice Shelf to Zooplankton
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Arranged alphabetically and extensively cross-referenced, this fact-packed, definitive guide to Antarctica includes over 1,000 entries and 250 photographs covering climate, geology, natural history, exploration, science, tourism and conservation.

An indispensable reference for the curious, the armchair traveler, the budding scientist and the environmentalist, Antarctica will fascinate and inform about the world's last true wilderness with answers to questions such as:

  • How was Antarctica formed?
  • The effects of Antarctica's weather on the world's climate
  • The life of an iceberg
  • Life on land beneath the ice
  • The importance of the scientific work in Antarctica.

To some people, Antarctica is an uninhabited and uninhabitable vastness of ice and snow. Cold though it may be, the continent is a hotbed of scientific research and a growing tourist destination. For all its remoteness, Antarctica is more accessible than ever before. More than 250 flights land at the South Pole each summer and cruise ships bring 12,000 tourists.

Designated since 1959 as a natural reserve devoted to peace and research, Antarctica is host to scientists working on everything from the origin of black holes to climate change to understanding the movements of icebergs the size of Delaware.

Antarctica: An Encyclopedia from Abbot Ice Shelf to Zooplankton covers the natural wonders, wildlife, explorers, adventurers and discoveries that have been made at the bottom of the world.

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About the Author:

Produced by the award-winning documentary company Natural History New Zealand, this book captures the landscape, wildlife and atmosphere of Antarctica as well as the fascinating detail of its history and science. The work of highly qualified researchers was reviewed by a panel of international experts to ensure accuracy, while the mix of historic and modern photographs illustrate every facet of the frozen continent.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Sample Entries

(Phrases in capitals are cross references to other entries)

Abbott Ice Shelf First sighted from aircraft in February 1940, by members of the UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, the Abbott Ice Shelf is 402 km (250 miles) long and 62 km (38 miles) wide, and borders Eights Coast. It partly or entirely encloses eight COASTAL ISLANDS.

 

Ablation Loss of material from a GLACIER or ICE SHEET caused by melting at the surface or base, evaporation and calving. Most ablation occurs in Antarctica in the ICE SHELVES and glacier tongues -- through melting at their bases, and when ice calves (breaks) off their edges to form ICEBERGS. Some melt also occurs in summer: vertical ice cliffs at the margin of some polar glaciers are caused by ice calving or shearing off their sides and also melting. The melt rates of these steep faces are up to eight times greater than those of horizontal surfaces because of the low angles of SOLAR RADIATION.

 

Académie des Sciences Created in 1666, the French Académie des Sciences drew up instructions for physical observations for Jules-Sébastien DUMONT D'URVILLE when he was preparing for his southern voyage in 1837 but on the whole were not supportive of the explorer. Six decades later, the Académie was one of the financial supporters of Jean-Baptiste CHARCOT on his 1903-05 FRENCH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION. The Académie publishes the findings of Antarctic scientists.

 

Adare, Cape The site of the first confirmed landing on the Antarctic continent and nesting ground of a huge colony of ADÉLIE PENGUINS. Cape Adare juts out from the western littoral of the ROSS SEA on the northern tip of VICTORIA LAND. It was named by James Clark ROSS in 1841 and is the site of the largest known colony of Adélie penguins.

On 24 January 1895, the members of the ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION made landfall on the Antarctic mainland at Cape Adare. Captain Leonard Kristensen and Carsten BORCHGREVINK made competing claims of being first to land, and another member of the expedition, Alex von Tunzelman, maintained he was first ashore, after jumping from the bow to steady the boat.

Borchgrevink returned to Cape Adare leading the 1898-1900 BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, and he and nine others became the first men to winter on the mainland from March 1899 to January 1900. During this time the expedition's zoologist Nikolai Hanson died and was buried on the top of Cape Adare -- the first GRAVE in Antarctica.

In 1911, the Northern Party of Robert SCOTT's fateful final expedition, led by Victor Campbell, wintered at Cape Adare.

 

Adelaide Island Located off the west coast of the ANTARCTIC PENINSULA, the island was discovered by John BISCOE on 16 February 1832. He described the island as 'imposing and beautiful ... with one high peak shooting up into the clouds, and occasionally appearing both above and below them, and a lower range of mountains extending about four miles, from north to south, having only a thin covering of snow on their summits but towards their base buried in a field of snow and ice of the most dazzling brightness ...'

ROTHERA STATION, on the eastern coast, is the main air operations centre for the BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY.

 

Adéie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) The most recognizable, and most studied, of all PENGUINS Adélies are the 'dinner-suit' birds -- jet black and white, with distinctive white rings around their eyes. Their average height is 70 cm (28 in) , they weigh around 5.5 kg (12 lb). Named after the wife of Jules-Sébastien DUMONT D'URVILLE they are the most widely distributed and in abundant of all the Antarctic species: there are thought to be about 2.5 million pairs in identified localities, and it is likely there are colonies yet to be discovered.

Adélies spend the winter at sea, in small groups among ICEBERGS and PACK ICE, diving for food, particularly KRILL. They begin coming ashore in early summer to breed in large traditional shoreside colonies; because the inshore has not yet broken up, they may have to trek -- in single file -- up to 100 km (62 miles) over ice. Colonies are situated on the more southerly SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS and all around the Antarctic continent. The largest known colony is at Cape ADARE, where there are hundreds of thousands of breeding pairs. The noise -- shrieking, squawking, groaning -- from these often enormous colonies has been picked up 50 km (31 miles) away; they are notable, too, for their stench.

Adélies build nests of pebbles, collected from the rocky slopes of their breeding sites or 'stolen' from other nests. Eggs are laid in November, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs for around 35 days. Once the chicks hatch, they are brooded for 25 days, after which both parents must forage to keep up with the demands of the growing chick.

While their parents are away, the chicks gather together in crèches (large groups of young birds). This offers some protection from the cold and from predators, particularly LEOPARD SEALS and SKUAS, but many chicks die during this stage. Fledging takes place at 50-54 days old.

The raised beaches the Adélies favour for their colonies are also prime sites for human bases. A joint New Zealand-USA base was established at Cape Hallett in the middle of an Adélie breeding colony in 1957 (the base closed in the 1960s); more controversially, in 1983 FRANCE began constructing an AIRSTRIP, using explosives to level the surface through Adélie colonies near its base on TERRE ADÉLIE.

 

Admiralty Bay A large bay, 8 km (5 miles) wide at its entrance, on the southern coast of King George Island in the SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS. It was named after the British Admiralty in or before 1822 by George Powell, a sealing captain. A visitor to the island's WHALING station, which was established in 1906, described it as 'a sordid habitation. Scores of squalid and dilapidated wooden huts and buildings clustered as near as possible to the foreshore. A curious ozone smell pervaded the whole area -- a smell which only a whaling station can produce.'

From 1946 to 1961, the British operated a scientific station, Base G, at Admiralty Bay. In 1977 Poland opened the year-round ARÇTOWSKI STATION. It is also the location of BRAZIL's Commandante Feraz research station, and Peru's Machu Picchu Station.

The western shore of Admiralty Bay has been designated a SITE OF SPECIFIC SCIENTIFIC INTEREST.

 

Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Flora and Fauna In 1964 general rules of conduct for scientific expeditions in Antarctica, which had been drawn up by the SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE ON ANTARCTIC RESEARCH (SCAR) to minimize the human impact on species and the environment, were incorporated into the Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Flora and Fauna. The main points of these measures are: prohibition of harming any native mammal (excluding WHALES, which are covered under INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION conventions); minimizing harmful interference in the environment of mammals and BIRDS; prohibition on the introduction of non-indigenous species, parasites and diseases; and the creation of SPECIALLY PROTECTED AREAS (SPA).

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