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To what extent does the physical environment affect life in Antarctica?

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Introduction

Santa Bernere Geography: Antarctica To what extent does the physical environment affect life in Antarctica? The existence of Antarctica was not confirmed until 1820 when British and Russian expeditions began. In 1840 Antarctica was established as a continent. Several countries have clamed the territory of Antarctica. But in 1959 a Treaty was signed saying that the treaty neither denies nor gives recognition to existing territorial claims. Antarctica is located on the southern hemisphere, at 90'00'' S and 0'00'' E. The total area of Antarctica is 14 million sq km; it is the 5th largest continent in the world. About 280 000 sq km of the land is ice-free and the rest is under ice. Antarctica is the least well-known and the most inhospitable continent. The climate of Antarctica is very harsh; the temperatures vary from the area. In the costal area the temperatures are higher then in the interior of the continent. ...read more.

Middle

Phytoplankton is the main source of primary production in Antarctica. So in the winter, when there's total darkness, phytoplankton can't grow because there's no sunlight. Sometimes it could be carried under the ice from distant open water. So the secondary producers aren't able to eat it and many of them could die because they can't found any food. The krill is the most important animal in the Southern Ocean, in the marine ecosystem. There source of food is phytoplankton and they are the source of food for the other species from higher trophic levels. They have trouble to survive in the winter, when the phytoplankton isn't produced. So they shrink and use up their own body's reserves. If the krill disappears then the other animal species would be forced to disappear because they won't have their main source of food anymore. The krill plays a major role in the marine ecosystem. In Antarctica, the land ecosystem must endure harsh temperature variations, so they have to be able to adapt. ...read more.

Conclusion

But the life in Antarctica is also affected by the fishing, the tourism and the climate change. These physical factors affect the primary production and the supply of food. In my opinion, the wildlife in Antarctica is mainly affected by humans (Scientifics), and by the pollution. There is a lot of rubbish that had begun to accumulate around the scientific stations and the sewage is disposed into the sea and due to the cold water, it doesn't really decompose. In 1990, a pipe supplying fuel to one base fractured, so there was oil spilled in the sea. This accident affected the growing of the phytoplankton. So if an accident like this could occur once again, the consequences could be greater and all the food chain would be broken and the wildlife in Antarctica destroyed. So I think that the humans affect a lot more the life in Antarctica then the physical environment does. ...read more.

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