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Showing posts from December, 2010

Delving in Antarctica

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‘It is almost a reproach to civilization that we have arrived at the close of the nineteenth century without knowing the whole of the superficial appearance of this planet,’ declared an exasperated John Sutherland, Duke of Argyll and former Governor of Canada, in 1897. In spite of the huge progress made across science, technology, engineering and social reform during the Victorian era, the area surrounding the South Pole was unknown. Yet by 1913, a concerted push by the likes of Shackleton and Scott for Britain, Amundsen for Norway, Mawson for Australasia, Filchner for Germany and Shirase for Japan, had reached the South and flung open the door on Antarctica. A frozen continent shaped by climatic extremes and inhabited by wildlife and vegetation unknown to science was being uncovered.
We now know Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean play a hugely significant role in our planet’s climate. By helping regulate the global exchange of heat and carbon dioxide, subtle changes in the …