Exploration of the Antarctic - Part 11
See also Chronology of Antarctic Exploration.
The International Geophysical Year (IGY) (actually 18-months from July 1957 to December 1958) was a period designated by scientific academies and councils around the world for collaboration on projects to study of the earth's environment and its interaction with the sun. Special attention was focused on Antarctica, including the establishment of over 50 research stations, many of them permanent.
The event was inspired by two earlier "[International Polar Years]]" (1882-3 and 1932-3) which coordinated oberservations by scientists of different nations, primarily in the Arctic. For the International Geophysical Year (IGY), scientists from 67 nations would eventually participate in activities all over the globe and make significant advances in understanding plate tectonics, ocean currents, terrestrial magnetism, the Van Allen radiation belts and other phenomena.
Antarctica receive special attention that resulted not just in the science undertaken for IGY, but a major advance in continuos scientific work that extends down to the present. This is made possible by the many reserach stations established, including:
- Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station (U.S., 1956) at the South Pole itself, which was achieved by airlift.
- Almirante Brown Antarctic Base (Argentina, 1951),
- Byrd Station (U.S., 1957 ),
- Casey Station (Australia, 1959),
- Davis Station (Australia, 1957),
- Dumont d'Urville Station (France, 1956),
- Halley Research Station (U.K., 1956),
- Jubany Scientific Station (Argentina, 1953),
- Mawson Station (Australia, 1954),
- McMurdo Station (U.S., 1956 - near the location of Scott's base camp),
- Mirny Station (Russia, formerly U.S.S.R., 1956),
- San Martín Station (Argentina, 1951),
- Scott Base (New Zealand, 1957),
- Showa Station (Japan, 1958),
- Wilkes Station (U.S. - now abandoned), and
- Vostok Station (Russia, formerly U.S.S.R., 1957).
These research stations and a host of science expeditions launched a new era of scientific discovery of the Antarctic (as some research on specific phenomena can be done best in this remote region of the world). Additional research bases established after 1960 have continued to build these nations' scientific capacity in Antarctica.
Among the many scientific explorations undertaken in Antarctica were studies of the depth of the Antarctic ice over the underlying bedrock of the continent. One result was the realization the there was far more ice, and thus freshwater, on the planet thant previously thought.
Beyond the science, the sucess of the international collaboration of the International Geophysical Year led to an widely held belief that the continent could be spared from international conflicts over land claims and military activities. Discussion about scientific collaboration led to dicussions about Antarctic collaboration generally and the need for a framework underwhich collaboration could continue. The result was the Antarctic Treaty, first signed in 1959 and the Antarctic Treaty System under which exploration of the Antarctic has occured for the past fifty years.
- Antarctica - A Frozen History (DVD), History Channel, 2006
- Antarctica: Exploring the Extreme: 400 Years of Adventureby Marilyn J. Landis, Chicago Review Press, 2001
- The Antarctic Circle
- Exploring Polar Frontiers: An Historical Encyclopedia, William James Mills, ABC-CLIO, 2003
- Antarctic History, 70 South, retrieved November 1, 2008
- South-Pole.com,retrieved November 1, 2008
- The United States in Antarctica: Report of the U. S. Antarctic Program External Panel
- Antarctica Online