Human ‘footprint’ on Antarctica measured for first time

Date:

Share post:

Buildings alone cover more than 390 000 square metres of land while the visual footprint – the areas from which human activity can be seen – extends to more than 93 000 square kilometres.

Human 'footprint' on Antarctica measured for first time
Aerial view of Australia’s Davis research station, Antarctica [Credit: Shaun Brooks]

The lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Sustainability, IMAS PhD student Shaun Brooks, said measuring the area impacted by humans was important for Antarctic conservation and environmental management.

“Although the 53 countries that have signed the Antarctic Treaty agreed to protect the Antarctic environment, until now there has been only limited data on the spatial extent of human activity on the continent,” Mr Brooks said.

“Our research shows that human impacts are the greatest on land that is also the most environmentally sensitive – ice free areas within a few kilometres of the coast.




“Ice-free land supports the continent’s greatest diversity of flora and fauna, including iconic species such as Adelie penguins, and provides the most accessible areas for marine animals that breed on land.

“We found that 81 per cent of the buildings in the Antarctic are located within just 0.44 per cent of the land that is free of ice.”

Mr Brooks said future increases in research activity and tourism were expected to put further human pressure on the continent in coming years.




“The data we have collected can be used to inform decision-making on Antarctic conservation and environmental management, as well as to track future impacts and changes.

“It may also serve to encourage greater coordination and sharing of facilities between nations and users accessing Antarctica, to help limit the human footprint.

“There is a growing tension between the increasing pressure for access to the continent and international commitments to protect the Antarctic environment.

“Hopefully our research can help to inform a sustainable balance between these competing imperatives,” Mr Brooks said.

Source: University of Tasmania [March 04, 2019]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Local extinction of Southern California mountain lions possible within 50 years

Two isolated mountain lion populations in southern California's Santa Ana and Santa Monica Mountains are at risk of...

Biodiversity of Europe’s mammals as rich as it was 8,000 years ago, according to new research

A new study comparing the biodiversity of wild mammals in Europe 8,000 years ago with the present has...

Intensified water cycle slows down global warming, new study finds

A new study led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric...

Elephant crisis in the Central African Republic

WWF and WCS have received alarming reports from their field operations that elephants are being slaughtered in the...

Fossilised microbe found in 200 million year old Leech cocoon

Palaeobiologists from the University of Kansas studying samples taken from the mountains of Antarctica have found a ciliate...

The ocean is losing its breath

In the past 50 years, the amount of water in the open ocean with zero oxygen has gone...

Absence of elephants and rhinoceroses reduces biodiversity in tropical forests

The progressive disappearance of seed-dispersing animals like elephants and rhinoceroses puts the structural integrity and biodiversity of the...

The shelf life of pyrite

The last 2.6 million years are characterized by glacial cycles, a regular alternation of cold and warm periods....