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Opinion: wilderness and aesthetic values in the Antarctic sea-ice zone


Summerson, R and Lieser, JL, Opinion: wilderness and aesthetic values in the Antarctic sea-ice zone, The Polar Journal, 8, (1) pp. 16-28. ISSN 2154-896X (2018) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2018 Informa UK Limited,

DOI: doi:10.1080/2154896X.2018.1468628


The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol) mandates the protection of wilderness and aesthetic values in Antarctica. The Madrid Protocol is a protocol to the Antarctic Treaty, so the provisions of the former apply to the area of application of the Treaty, which is "the area south of 60° South Latitude". Between the 60° South line of latitude and the Antarctic continent lies the sea-ice zone, in which sea-ice forms during the winter and decays and mostly melts away during the summer. At its peak the area covered by Antarctic sea-ice is roughly 19 M km2, substantially more than the area of the Antarctic continent (14 M km2), thereby more than doubling the size of Antarctica. The sea-ice zone is critical for maintaining the Antarctic and the Earth’s climate and many of the marine ecosystem processes that the Southern Ocean trophic system is dependent upon. It has also been frequently remarked upon as an area of surpassing beauty with many unusual features such as "ice blink", the many types of sea-ice such as frazil ice and pancake ice and the abundant wildlife. The beauty of the sea-ice zone has been remarked on throughout the literature of Antarctic exploration. For example, Edward Wilson, the polar explorer on both of Captain Robert Scott’s Antarctic expeditions in the early twentieth century, wrote whilst the Discovery was traversing the pack ice in the Ross Sea: "Strangely beautiful today has been altogether, for all through the pack ice we have not seen the sun. […] It was really very beautiful and may account for the extra abundance of life …" Wilson, Edward Diary of the "Discovery" Expedition to the Antarctic Regions 1901–1904, London: Blandford Press, 1966. In this paper, the wilderness and aesthetic values inherent in the sea-ice zone will be examined, as will the actual and potential threats to these values and what protection may be necessary and can be afforded to a transient, mobile feature that is non-existent for three months of the year.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:values, wilderness, aesthetic, Antarctica, sea-ice, protection
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Physical geography and environmental geoscience not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Effects of climate change on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic environments (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Lieser, JL (Dr Jan Lieser)
ID Code:127525
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2018-08-02
Last Modified:2018-12-13

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