Population of Antarctica 2016
The continent of Antarctica is the only continent in the world with a permanent residence of zero. However, despite this fact, the continent is inhabited with temporary residents, mainly there to conduct research. On December 1, 1959, twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty, an agreement surrounding international relations with Antarctica. Today, fifty countries have signed the treaty, agreeing that Antarctica should be used for research purposes. As a result, around twenty-nine of the countries have National Antarctica Programs that send researchers to research facilities in Antarctica throughout the year to conduct certain research. The total number of researchers present on the continent is estimated to range from about 1,000 to about 4,500 at any given time. The estimated population density of the continent ranges from about 0.00018 people per square mile to about 0.00091 people per square mile.
The nine countries that have the most researchers present on the continent during the most popular time are Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. United States has the most researchers present and has about 1,293 researchers. Italy has the least amount of researchers with about 102 researchers. Argentina has 667; Russia has 429; Chile has 359; the United Kingdom has 217; Australia has 200; and, France and Japan each have 125. Despite the treaty and the joint agreement that no one country can really hold claim to the continent, seven countries claim the continent and maintain a base there. The seven countries are Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Norway, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Argentine Antarctica is considered to be the portion of the continent containing the Antarctic Peninsula and a small triangular section that extends towards the South Pole. Despite the overlap with Great Britain and Chile’s sectors of the continent, Argentina has six permanent bases in the sector. The six bases are Belgrano II, Esperanza, Carlini, Marambio Base Station, Orcadas Base, and San Martin Base. Belgrano II was started in 1979 and is in fact the southern most Argentine laboratory. Esperanza consists of the national radio of Argentine Antarctica and also the school Julio A. Roca, which has been around since 1978. Carlini is simply just a laboratory on King George Island. Marambio Base Station, around since 1969, is one of the biggest laboratories in the Argentine sector. Orcadas Base, around since 1903, was the world’s first base in Antarctica. Lastly, San Martin Base dedicates its time to meteorological measurements. The sector also contains seven seasonal bases and four miscellaneous camps.
The largest sector claimed by any country is the Australian sector of Antarctica. It consists of 2,276,651 square miles. The sector is split up into nine districts, the largest of which is Wilkes Land, consisting of about 2.6 million square kilometers. Originally, the United Kingdom had claimed the territory for itself. However, in 1933, the United Kingdom placed the sector under the authority and power of Australia. There are three year-round stations throughout this area: Mawson, Davis, and Casey. Mawson Station became the first Australian station on the continent on February 13, 1954. One of the main concerns with this area is Japan’s controversial whaling in the waters surrounding this territory. Australia claims that the area is an Exclusive Economic Zone and that Japan is violating their sovereignty. However, Japan does not recognize the Australian claim on the territory, which is why they do not abide by their request.
The main organization that administers the territory is known as Antarctica. It was established on July 11, 1961 and became independent from the Magallanes Province in 1975. This sector overlaps with the Argentinean and British sectors of the continent, but it consists of about 492,628 square miles. There are two districts in this sector: Poloto Pardo and Tierra O’Higgins. The most populated area in this sector is on King George Island. Frei Montalva Station is also in this sector, which is a large research center. However, the main Chilean research facility in Antarctica is the Professor Julio Escudero Base. The sector only has one permanent research facility: O’Higgins Station. Lastly, the oldest Chilean Antarctic station is called the Captain Arturo Prat Base, which was created on February 6, 1947.
The Adelie Land is the territory in Antarctica claimed by the French government. It makes up about 166,796 square miles and is covered mainly by glaciers. The area was first discovered in 1840 by a French explorer, who named the area after his wife, Adele. The Dumont d’Urville Station is the only permanent French research station in the continent. It has been around since January 12, 1956. The population of the research center hits approximately 80 people during the summer. Also, the movie March of the Penguins was filmed at the research facility. Lastly, the original research center was Port Martin, established on April 9, 1950, and, in fact, burned down on January 22-23, 1952.
Despite Germany’s attempts at claiming the territory, Norway annexed Queen Maud Land, the name given to the land by early explorers, on January 14, 1939. The territory is about 1,042,476 square miles. Norway hoped to help the whaling industry and their explorers by annexing the territory. The Polar Affairs Department of the Ministry of Justice and the Police administers Queen Maud Land. The first summer station established in the territory is known as Troll and was established in 1989. In 2005, Troll was upgraded to a year-round station. The only other Norwegian research facility is Tor, which is a summer facility founded in 1985. Lastly, the three main birds in this area are the Antarctic petrel, the snow petrel, and raptor.
Antarctica New Zealand
The original involvement by New Zealand in Antarctica began in 1923, mainly due to their close relations with the United Kingdom. Then, in 1959, Scott Base became the first permanent base of New Zealand in Antarctica. On July 1, 1996, New Zealand created the New Zealand Antarctic Institute, also known as Antarctica New Zealand, which functions to manage all Antarctica affairs.
British Antarctic Territory
Great Britain officially claimed their territory in Antarctica in 1908, when it extended its influence further into the South Atlantic. During World War II, the British Antarctic Survey was created, but was forced to disband due to the Antarctic Treaty of 1961. There are two permanent research facilities in this territory: Halley and Rothera. Signy was a permanent research facility from 1947 until 1996, but is now solely a summer research facility. The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust runs the base at Port Lockroy. There is a museum that receives around 10,000 visitors every year. Lastly, the southern part of the territory was named Queen Elizabeth Land after Queen Elizabeth II on December 18, 2012, despite the criticism received from Argentina.
Climate of Antarctica
Antarctica is considered to be the coldest continent on the planet. It is the location of the coldest recorded temperature ever on planet earth. On July 21, 1983, the temperature was recorded as -89° C or -129° F at the Russian Vostok Station. The mean temperature throughout the year at the South Pole is -48° C and the mean temperature at the Russian Vostok Station is about -55° C. The relative density of the continent is about 0.03%, which is why it is considered to be a polar desert. In fact, the whole continent averages less than 50 millimeters of rain per year. Antarctica is so much colder than anywhere else due to its high latitude. The sunlight hits the surface of the continent at a lower angle of incidence, resulting in lower energy distributed per unit area. Also, because the snow and ice are highly reflective, there is little radiation that is actually absorbed by the surface. Also, there is a portion of the year where the continent is in complete darkness, resulting in even colder temperatures. The dry air comes as a result of the difficulty of cold air retaining water, especially air as cold as Antarctica’s air. The high-pressure system also is a contributing factor to the dry air.
Animals of Antarctica
There are four major groups of animals on the continent of Antarctica: birds, penguins, seals, and whales. Their larger bodies with a waterproof plumage characterize the Antarctic birds. Overall, there are nineteen species of birds that breed on the continent. The largest species is the Albatross. There are about 750,000 pairs of Albatross. These birds are able to fly 550 miles per day with speeds up to 50 miles per hour. They breed from the months of December to July and give birth from February to October. Another large species is the Antarctic Fulmar. In defense of their nests that they may feel are threatened, they are able to spit an oil with a foul smell up to five feet. They breed from October to December and give birth in January. Lastly, the Sheathbill is also a large species, as there exist around 100,000 pairs of the bird. They are the only bird in Antarctica without webbed feet. They breed from September to November and also give birth in November.
There are only four species of penguins that breed on the continent of Antarctica: Adelie, Emperor, Chinstrap, and Gentoo. The largest species is the Chinstrap, which has around 7 million pairs on the continent. These penguins can only dive up to a maximum of 230 feet and can only stay underneath for about up to a half a minute. They breed from October to November and give birth from January to February. The next largest species is the Adelie, which consists of about 2.5 million pairs of the penguin. During the winter seasons, this penguin will stay out at sea, resting on icebergs and pack ice. Lastly, the only penguin that breeds during the winter months is the Emperor species. There are only about 200,000 pairs of this penguin.
There are six species of seals on the Antarctic continent: Crabeater, Fur, Leopard, Ross, Southern Elephant, and Weddell. The largest species is the Crabeater, which consists of about 30 million seals on the continent. They are considered to also be the largest consumer of krill, eating around 20 times their body weight every year. They breed during the Austral spring and give birth during the months of December and January. The next largest species is the Fur seal, which consists of about 4 million seals. These seals are the reason that many people began to explore and hunt for seals in the 18th and 19th centuries, due to their valuable fur. The Fur seals breed during the months of November and December and give birth from November to January. Lastly, the next largest species of seals is the Weddell seal, named after the commander of British sealing explorations, Sir James Weddell. There exist about 800,000 seals of this species. They live in the most southern habitation of all the mammals. They live only about 800 miles from the South Pole. These seals breed in December and give birth from September to October.
There are seven species of whales in the waters surrounding the continent. The whales can be grouped into two categories: toothed and baleen. The toothed whales are the Orca and Sperm whales. The baleen whales are the Blue, Fin, Humpback, Minke, and Southern Right. The largest species of whales of the continent is the Sperm whale, consisting of about 750,000 whales. Growing up to 50 feet long, they eat giant squids, fish, octopus, and skate. Diving up to a mile, they are the deepest diving mammals of Antarctica. The next largest species is the Minke whale, which consists of about 500,000 whales. They can grow up to 30 feet long and they eat krill, fish, and squid. This species of whale is the only whale that remains hunted by the Japanese and Norwegians. The next largest species of whales is the Orca whale, which consists of over 100,000 whales. They can grow up to 30 feet long and they need fish, birds, and marine mammals. They are known to hunt in packs and not migrate during the winter. Lastly, the fastest of the baleen whales is the Fin whale. There are about 100,000 Fin whales, which can grow up to about 90 feet long, eating squid, krill, and fish.
In 1959, thirteen countries drafted the Antarctic Treaty in order to create an international agreement on the purpose and handling of the continent. The treaty consists of fourteen articles, outlining all the provisions and measures in regards to Antarctica. The first provision that they outlined was that any business on the continent must be for peaceful purposes only. All military personnel, equipment, and/or bases are prohibited from the continent. The second article states that all countries have the freedom of scientific investigation on the continent. Along with this, Article III states that all international powers involved in scientific research on the continent must make sure the other countries know of the plans to research, share the results from the research, and share the research personnel between the research stations. Some of the other major provisions include a ban on all nuclear activity and material and to put aside any territorial sovereignty disputes. The treaty took effect on June 23, 1961. Since the original signing of the treaty, the number of parties engaged in the treaty has come to fifty. The most recent addition to the treaty was Pakistan, who joined on March 1, 2012.
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