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Antarctic Palmer Station

 



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Overview
Antarctica is a six million square-mile area locked in an ice age. Its waters team with more life than a tropical rain forest, and its coast plays host to some of the most magnificent animals in the world. Icebergs the size of Connecticut break loose from floating ice shelves that are larger than France, and chill the ocean waters for thousands of miles. The continent has become an international science laboratory where scientists study its weather and climate, oceanology, and geology. From this frozen world, people may one day obtain food, water, and living space. We are only now beginning to realize the profound effects that Antarctica has on our environment and way of life. This continent holds 75% of the earth's fresh water, a possible resource given the depletion and pollution of fresh water elsewhere on earth. Antarctica may hold the key to understanding food chains, and the role of plankton in those chains. It is possible that these small organisms form the base of the ecosystems that support all living things. One of the first joint efforts at studying Antarctica dates back to 1957 when scientists from 12 countries took part in a one-year, wide-scale program as part of the International Geographical Year (IGY). The scientists concentrated their studies on such fields as meteorology, oceanography, earth magnetism, gravity, auroras, cosmic radiation, glaciology, seismology, and sunspot activity. Continued research included geology, biology, and mapping. Since the close of the IGY, it is apparent from the influx of scientists, support personnel, visitors, and tourists that the Antarctic continent no longer enjoys the protection of isolation. Concern about the possible effects of the human presence on Antarctic ecosystems, the need for protecting birds and marine mammals, and the peaceful use of the continent has resulted in several treaties, signed by countries concerned about the future of this fragile continent.

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