On a glacier-filled island with fjords and elephant seals, Russia has built Antarctica’s first Orthodox church on a hill overlooking its research base, transporting the logs all the way from Siberia.
Less than an hour away by snowmobile, Chinese laborers have updated the Great Wall Station, a linchpin in China’s plan to operate five bases on Antarctica, complete with an indoor badminton court, domes to protect satellite stations and sleeping quarters for 150 people.
More than a century has passed since explorers raced to plant their flags at the bottom of the world, and for decades to come this continent is supposed to be protected as a scientific preserve, shielded from intrusions like military activities and mining.
But an array of countries are rushing to assert greater influence here, with an eye not just toward the day those protective treaties expire, but also for the strategic and commercial opportunities that exist right now.
“The newer players are stepping into what they view as a treasure house of resources,” said Anne-Marie Brady, a scholar at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury who specializes in Antarctic politics.
Some of the ventures focus on the Antarctic resources that are already up for grabs, like abundant sea life. China and South Korea, both of which operate state-of-the-art bases here, are ramping up their fishing of krill, the shrimplike crustaceans found in abundance in the Southern Ocean, while Russia recently thwarted efforts to create one of the world’s largest ocean sanctuaries here.
Some scientists are examining the potential for harvesting icebergs from Antarctica, which is estimated to have the biggest reserves of fresh water on the planet. Nations are also pressing ahead with space research and satellite projects to expand their global navigation abilities.
Building on a Soviet-era foothold, Russia is expanding its monitoring stations for Glonass, its version of the Global Positioning System. At least three Russian stations are already operating in Antarctica, part of its effort to challenge the dominance of the American GPS, and new stations are planned for sites like the Russian base, in the shadow of the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity.
Elsewhere in Antarctica, Russian researchers boast of their recent discovery of a freshwater reserve the size of Lake Ontario after drilling through miles of solid ice.
“You can see that we’re here to stay,” said Vladimir Cheberdak, 57, chief of the Bellingshausen Station, as he sipped tea under a portrait of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, an officer and later admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy who explored the Antarctic coast in 1820.
Read more: Countries Rush for Upper Hand in Antarctica
The Latest on: Antarctica
[google_news title=”” keyword=”Antarctica” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Antarctica
- Researchers in Antarctica developed a strange accent after being isolated for 6 monthson March 1, 2024 at 6:53 am
Living on the edges of the planets comes with an unexpected perk: you may pick up an exotic accent that's spoken only in Antarctica. A study, first reported by Richard Gray at the BBC, found that over ...
- Who Owns Antarctica?on March 1, 2024 at 5:07 am
“Only seven countries have ever formally claimed parts of Antarctica: the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand and Norway,” Burgess explained. “During the 1940s and 1950s ...
- Antarctica Unpinned: Unlocking the Secrets of Thinning Ice Shelveson March 1, 2024 at 4:16 am
New research shows that while some Antarctic ice shelves have been thinning since at least the 1970s, widespread thinning accelerated in the 1990s. For many ice shelves around Antarctica, the 1970s ...
- Antarctica struck with bird flu as scientists say illness has hit the mainland for the first timeon February 28, 2024 at 8:17 am
Antarctica scientists confirmed the bird flu has reached the mainland after dead birds tested positive. Concerns over the virus spreading due to tight colonies continue.
- Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier" began to retreat in the 1940s because of an El Niño eventon February 27, 2024 at 4:14 pm
Thwaites Glacier is known as the "Doomsday Glacier" because its collapse could cause three meters of sea level rise ...
- Antarctica’s ‘doomsday glacier’ began melting in mid-20th century: Studyon February 27, 2024 at 1:59 pm
West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier — often known as the “doomsday glacier” for the potentially catastrophic consequences of its hypothetical collapse — began rapidly retreating at an earlier date than ...
- Deadly bird flu discovered on Antarctica, threatening penguin colonieson February 27, 2024 at 9:54 am
A deadly strain of bird flu has been found on mainland Antarctica for the first time, according to scientists, raising concerns over the risk of mass mortality of the continent’s huge colonies of ...
- Antarctica provides at least $276 billion a year in economic benefits to the world, new research findson February 26, 2024 at 7:59 pm
In our market-driven world, calculating the economic value of the environment can be a useful tool in garnering support for environmental protection.
- Antarctica was one of the few places without bird flu. Not anymore.on February 26, 2024 at 4:00 pm
BOSTON — A Harvard professor has resigned as co-chair of the campus’ antisemitism task force after about a month, according to university officials. Harvard Business School professor Raffaella Sadun ...
- How Antarctica’s history of isolation is ending—thanks to Starlinkon February 26, 2024 at 2:00 am
The seventh continent has always been a bleak, unconnected place. Elon Musk’s satellite internet is changing that, and people want to see what life is like there.
via Bing News