Antarctica

Introduction Speculation over the existence of a "southern land" was not confirmed until the early 1820s when British and American commercial operators and British and Russian national expeditions began exploring the Antarctic Peninsula region and other areas south of the Antarctic Circle. Not until 1840 was it established that Antarctica was indeed a continent and not just a group of islands. Several exploration "firsts" were achieved in the early 20th century. Following World War II, there was an upsurge in scientific research on the continent. A number of countries have set up year-round research stations on Antarctica. Seven have made territorial claims, but not all countries recognize these claims. In order to form a legal framework for the activities of nations on the continent, an Antarctic Treaty was negotiated that neither denies nor gives recognition to existing territorial claims; signed in 1959, it entered into force in 1961.
History

Belief in the existence of a Terra Australis—a vast continent in the far south of the globe to "balance" the northern lands of Europe, Asia and north Africa—had existed since the times of Ptolemy (1st century AD), who suggested the idea to preserve the symmetry of all known landmasses in the world. Depictions of a large southern landmass were common in maps such as the early 16th century Turkish Piri Reis map. Even in the late 17th century, after explorers had found that South America and Australia were not part of the fabled "Antarctica", geographers believed that the continent was much larger than its actual size.

The snow surface at Dome C Station is representative of the majority of the continent's surface.

An Iceberg dwarfs a ship in this 1920s English magazine illustration of a whaler in the Antarctic

European maps continued to show this hypothetical land until Captain James Cook's ships, HMS Resolution and Adventure, crossed the Antarctic Circle on January 17, 1773, in December 1773 and again in January 1774.[4] Cook in fact came within about 75 miles of the Antarctic coast before retreating in the face of field ice in January 1773. [5] The first confirmed sighting of Antarctica can be narrowed down to the crews of ships captained by three individuals. According to various organizations (the National Science Foundation,[6] NASA,[7] the University of California, San Diego,[8] and other sources[9][10]), ships captained by three men sighted Antarctica in 1820: Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (a captain in the Russian Imperial Navy), Edward Bransfield (a captain in the British Navy), and Nathaniel Palmer (an American sealer out of Stonington, Connecticut). Von Bellingshausen saw Antarctica on January 27, 1820, three days before Bransfield sighted land, and ten months before Palmer did so in November 1820. On that day the two-ship expedition led by Von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev reached a point within 32 kilometers (20 mi) of the Antarctic mainland and saw ice fields there. The first documented landing on mainland Antarctica was by the American sealer John Davis in Western Antarctica on February 7, 1821, although some historians dispute this claim.

In December 1839, as part of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–42 conducted by the United States Navy (sometimes called the "Ex. Ex.", or "the Wilkes Expedition"), an expedition sailed from Sydney, Australia, into the Antarctic Ocean, as it was then known, and reported the discovery "of an Antarctic continent west of the Balleny Islands". That part of Antarctica was later named "Wilkes Land", a name it maintains to this day.

In 1841, explorer James Clark Ross passed through what is now known as the Ross Sea and discovered Ross Island (both of which were named for him). He sailed along a huge wall of ice that was later named the Ross Ice Shelf (also named for him). Mount Erebus and Mount Terror are named after two ships from his expedition: HMS Erebus and Terror.[11] Mercator Cooper landed in Eastern Antarctica on January 26, 1853.[12]

The Endurance at night during Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914.

During an expedition led by Ernest Shackleton in 1907, parties led by T. W. Edgeworth David became the first to climb Mount Erebus and to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Douglas Mawson, who assumed the leadership of the Magnetic Pole party on their perilous return, went on to lead several expeditions until retiring in 1931.[13] In addition, Shackleton himself and three other members of his expedition made several firsts in December 1908 – February 1909: they were the first humans to traverse the Ross Ice Shelf, the first to traverse the Transantarctic Mountain Range (via the Beardmore Glacier), and the first to set foot on the South Polar Plateau. On December 14, 1911, an expedition led by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen from the ship Fram became the first to reach the geographic South Pole, using a route from the Bay of Whales and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier.[14] One month later, the ill-fated Scott Expedition reached the pole.

Richard Evelyn Byrd led several voyages to the Antarctic by plane in the 1930s and 1940s. He is credited with implementing mechanized land transport on the continent and conducting extensive geological and biological research.[15] However, it was not until October 31, 1956 that anyone set foot on the South Pole again; on that day a U.S. Navy group led by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek successfully landed an aircraft there.

Geography Location: continent mostly south of the Antarctic Circle
Geographic coordinates: 90 00 S, 0 00 E
Map references: Antarctic Region
Area: total: 14 million sq km
land: 14 million sq km (280,000 sq km ice-free, 13.72 million sq km ice-covered) (est.)
note: fifth-largest continent, following Asia, Africa, North America, and South America, but larger than Australia and the subcontinent of Europe
Area - comparative: slightly less than 1.5 times the size of the US
Land boundaries: 0 km
note: see entry on Disputes - international
Coastline: 17,968 km
Maritime claims: Australia, Chile, and Argentina claim Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) rights or similar over 200 nm extensions seaward from their continental claims, but like the claims themselves, these zones are not accepted by other countries; 21 of 28 Antarctic consultative nations have made no claims to Antarctic territory (although Russia and the US have reserved the right to do so) and do not recognize the claims of the other nations; also see the Disputes - international entry
Climate: severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation, and distance from the ocean; East Antarctica is colder than West Antarctica because of its higher elevation; Antarctic Peninsula has the most moderate climate; higher temperatures occur in January along the coast and average slightly below freezing
Terrain: about 98% thick continental ice sheet and 2% barren rock, with average elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 meters; mountain ranges up to nearly 5,000 meters; ice-free coastal areas include parts of southern Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, the Antarctic Peninsula area, and parts of Ross Island on McMurdo Sound; glaciers form ice shelves along about half of the coastline, and floating ice shelves constitute 11% of the area of the continent
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Bentley Subglacial Trench -2,555 m
highest point: Vinson Massif 4,897 m
note: the lowest known land point in Antarctica is hidden in the Bentley Subglacial Trench; at its surface is the deepest ice yet discovered and the world's lowest elevation not under seawater
Natural resources: iron ore, chromium, copper, gold, nickel, platinum and other minerals, and coal and hydrocarbons have been found in small uncommercial quantities; none presently exploited; krill, finfish, and crab have been taken by commercial fisheries
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (ice 98%, barren rock 2%) (2005)
Natural hazards: katabatic (gravity-driven) winds blow coastward from the high interior; frequent blizzards form near the foot of the plateau; cyclonic storms form over the ocean and move clockwise along the coast; volcanism on Deception Island and isolated areas of West Antarctica; other seismic activity rare and weak; large icebergs may calve from ice shelf
Environment - current issues: in 1998, NASA satellite data showed that the Antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, covering 27 million square kilometers; researchers in 1997 found that increased ultraviolet light passing through the hole damages the DNA of icefish, an Antarctic fish lacking hemoglobin; ozone depletion earlier was shown to harm one-celled Antarctic marine plants; in 2002, significant areas of ice shelves disintegrated in response to regional warming
Geography - note: the coldest, windiest, highest (on average), and driest continent; during summer, more solar radiation reaches the surface at the South Pole than is received at the Equator in an equivalent period; mostly uninhabitable
Politics

Antarctica has no government and belongs to no country. Various countries claim areas of it, but while some have mutually recognized each other's claims,[35] no other countries recognize such claims. The area between 90° W and 150° W is the only part of Antarctica not claimed by any country as of yet.[3]

Since 1959, new claims on Antarctica have been suspended and the continent is considered politically neutral. Its status is regulated by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and other related agreements, collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System. For the purposes of the Treaty System, Antarctica is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60° S. The treaty was signed by twelve countries, including the Soviet Union (and later Russia), the United Kingdom, Argentina, and the United States. It set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation, environmental protection, and banned military activity on that continent. This was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War.

In 1983, the Antarctic Treaty Parties began negotiations on a convention to regulate mining in Antarctica.[36] A coalition of international organisations [37] launched a public pressure campaign to prevent any minerals development in the region, led largely by Greenpeace International [38] which established its own scientific station – World Park Base - in the Ross Sea region [39] and conducted annual expeditions to document environmental impacts from human activities on the continent.[40] In 1988, the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resources (CRAMRA) was adopted.[41] The following year, however, Australia and France announced that they would not ratify the convention, rendering it dead for all intents and purposes. Instead, they proposed that a comprehensive regime to protect the Antarctic environment be negotiated in its place.[42] As other countries followed suit, the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (the ‘Madrid Protocol’) was negotiated and on January 14, 1998 it entered into force.[43] The Madrid Protocol bans all mining activities in Antarctica, designating the continent as a ‘natural reserve devoted to peace and science’.

The Antarctic Treaty prohibits any military activity in Antarctica, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvers, or the testing of any type of weapon. Military personnel or equipment are permitted only for scientific research or for other peaceful purposes.[44] The only documented land military manoeuvre was Operation NINETY, undertaken by the Argentine military.[45]

The United States military issues the Antarctica Service Medal to military members or civilians who perform research duty in Antarctica. The medal includes a "wintered over" bar issued to those who remain on the continent for two complete six-month seasons.

People Population: no indigenous inhabitants, but there are both permanent and summer-only staffed research stations
note: 28 nations, all signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, operate through their National Antarctic Program a number of seasonal-only (summer) and year-round research stations on the continent and its nearby islands south of 60 degrees south latitude (the region covered by the Antarctic Treaty); these stations' population of persons doing and supporting science or engaged in the management and protection of the Antarctic region varies from approximately 4,000 in summer to 1,000 in winter; in addition, approximately 1,000 personnel, including ship's crew and scientists doing onboard research, are present in the waters of the treaty region; peak summer (December-February) population - 3,944 total; Argentina 417, Australia 200, Brazil 40, Bulgaria 15, Chile 224, China 70, Czech Republic 20, Ecuador 26, Finland 20, France 122, Germany 78, India 65, Italy 113, Japan 125, South Korea 60, NZ 85, Norway 44, Peru 28, Poland 40, Romania 13, Russia 429, South Africa 80, Spain 28, Sweden 20, Ukraine 24, UK 205, US 1,293, Uruguay 60 (2006-2007); winter (June-August) station population - 1,077 total; Argentina 176, Australia 62, Brazil 12, Chile 88, China 29, France 37, Germany 9, India 25, Italy 2, Japan 40, South Korea 15, NZ 10, Norway 7, Poland 12, Russia 148, South Africa 10, Ukraine 12, UK 37, US 337, Uruguay 9 (2006); research stations operated within the Antarctic Treaty area (south of 60 degrees south latitude) by National Antarctic Programs: year-round stations - 37 total; Argentina 6, Australia 3, Brazil 1, Chile 3, China 2, France 1, Germany 1, India 1, Japan 1, South Korea 1, NZ 1, Norway 1, Poland 1, Russia 5, South Africa 1, Ukraine 1, UK 2, US 3, Uruguay 1, Italy and France jointly 1 (2005); seasonal-only (summer) stations - 16 total; Bulgaria 1, Chile 1, Czech Republic 1, Ecuador 1, Finland 1, Germany 1, Italy 1, Japan 1, Norway 1, Peru 1, Romania 1, Russia 1, Spain 2, Sweden 1, UK 1 (2006-2007); in addition, during the austral summer some nations have numerous occupied locations such as tent camps, summer-long temporary facilities, and mobile traverses in support of research (July 2007 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Antarctica
Government type: Antarctic Treaty Summary - the Antarctic Treaty, signed on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961, establishes the legal framework for the management of Antarctica; the 29th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting was held in Edinburgh, UK in June 2006; at these periodic meetings, decisions are made by consensus (not by vote) of all consultative member nations; at the end of 2006, there were 46 treaty member nations: 28 consultative and 18 non-consultative; consultative (decision-making) members include the seven nations that claim portions of Antarctica as national territory (some claims overlap) and 21 non-claimant nations; the US and Russia have reserved the right to make claims; the US does not recognize the claims of others; Antarctica is administered through meetings of the consultative member nations; decisions from these meetings are carried out by these member nations (with respect to their own nationals and operations) in accordance with their own national laws; the years in parentheses indicate when a consultative member-nation acceded to the Treaty and when it was accepted as a consultative member, while no date indicates the country was an original 1959 treaty signatory; claimant nations are - Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, NZ, Norway, and the UK. Nonclaimant consultative nations are - Belgium, Brazil (1975/1983), Bulgaria (1978/1998) China (1983/1985), Ecuador (1987/1990), Finland (1984/1989), Germany (1979/1981), India (1983/1983), Italy (1981/1987), Japan, South Korea (1986/1989), Netherlands (1967/1990), Peru (1981/1989), Poland (1961/1977), Russia, South Africa, Spain (1982/1988), Sweden (1984/1988), Ukraine (1992/2004), Uruguay (1980/1985), and the US; non-consultative members, with year of accession in parentheses, are - Austria (1987), Belarus (2006), Canada (1988), Colombia (1989), Cuba (1984), Czech Republic (1962/1993), Denmark (1965), Estonia (2001), Greece (1987), Guatemala (1991), Hungary (1984), North Korea (1987), Papua New Guinea (1981), Romania (1971), Slovakia (1962/1993), Switzerland (1990), Turkey (1996), and Venezuela (1999); note - Czechoslovakia acceded to the Treaty in 1962 and separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993; Article 1 - area to be used for peaceful purposes only; military activity, such as weapons testing, is prohibited, but military personnel and equipment may be used for scientific research or any other peaceful purpose; Article 2 - freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation shall continue; Article 3 - free exchange of information and personnel, cooperation with the UN and other international agencies; Article 4 - does not recognize, dispute, or establish territorial claims and no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force; Article 5 - prohibits nuclear explosions or disposal of radioactive wastes; Article 6 - includes under the treaty all land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees 00 minutes south and reserves high seas rights; Article 7 - treaty-state observers have free access, including aerial observation, to any area and may inspect all stations, installations, and equipment; advance notice of all expeditions and of the introduction of military personnel must be given; Article 8 - allows for jurisdiction over observers and scientists by their own states; Article 9 - frequent consultative meetings take place among member nations; Article 10 - treaty states will discourage activities by any country in Antarctica that are contrary to the treaty; Article 11 - disputes to be settled peacefully by the parties concerned or, ultimately, by the ICJ; Articles 12, 13, 14 - deal with upholding, interpreting, and amending the treaty among involved nations; other agreements - some 200 recommendations adopted at treaty consultative meetings and ratified by governments include - Agreed Measures for Fauna and Flora (1964) which were later incorporated into the Environmental Protocol; Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972); Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980); a mineral resources agreement was signed in 1988 but remains unratified; the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed 4 October 1991 and entered into force 14 January 1998; this agreement provides for the protection of the Antarctic environment through six specific annexes: 1) environmental impact assessment, 2) conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora, 3) waste disposal and waste management, 4) prevention of marine pollution, 5) area protection and management and 6) liability arising from environmental emergencies; it prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources except scientific research; a permanent Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Legal system: Antarctica is administered through meetings of the consultative member nations; decisions from these meetings are carried out by these member nations (with respect to their own nationals and operations) in accordance with their own national laws; US law, including certain criminal offenses by or against US nationals, such as murder, may apply extraterritorially; some US laws directly apply to Antarctica; for example, the Antarctic Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. section 2401 et seq., provides civil and criminal penalties for the following activities, unless authorized by regulation of statute: the taking of native mammals or birds; the introduction of nonindigenous plants and animals; entry into specially protected areas; the discharge or disposal of pollutants; and the importation into the US of certain items from Antarctica; violation of the Antarctic Conservation Act carries penalties of up to $10,000 in fines and one year in prison; the National Science Foundation and Department of Justice share enforcement responsibilities; Public Law 95-541, the US Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978, as amended in 1996, requires expeditions from the US to Antarctica to notify, in advance, the Office of Oceans, Room 5805, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520, which reports such plans to other nations as required by the Antarctic Treaty; for more information, contact Permit Office, Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia 22230; telephone: (703) 292-8030, or visit their website at www.nsf.gov; more generally, access to the Antarctic Treaty area, that is to all areas between 60 and 90 degrees south latitude, is subject to a number of relevant legal instruments and authorization procedures adopted by the states party to the Antarctic Treaty
Research

Each year, scientists from 27 different nations conduct experiments not reproducible in any other place in the world. In the summer more than 4,000 scientists operate research stations; this number decreases to nearly 1,000 in the winter.[3] McMurdo Station is capable of housing more than 1,000 scientists, visitors, and tourists.

Researchers include biologists, geologists, oceanographers, physicists, astronomers, glaciologists, and meteorologists. Geologists tend to study plate tectonics, meteorites from outer space, and resources from the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. Glaciologists in Antarctica are concerned with the study of the history and dynamics of floating ice, seasonal snow, glaciers, and ice sheets. Biologists, in addition to examining the wildlife, are interested in how harsh temperatures and the presence of people affect adaptation and survival strategies in a wide variety of organisms. Medical physicians have made discoveries concerning the spreading of viruses and the body's response to extreme seasonal temperatures. Astrophysicists at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station study the celestial dome and cosmic microwave background radiation. Many astronomical observations are better made from the interior of Antarctica than from most surface locations because of the high elevation, which results in a thin atmosphere, and low temperature, which minimizes the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, thus allowing for a view of space clearer than anywhere else on Earth. Antarctic ice serves as both the shield and the detection medium for the largest neutrino telescope in the world, built 2 kilometers below Amundsen-Scott station.[51]

Since the 1970s, an important focus of study has been the ozone layer in the atmosphere above Antarctica. In 1985, three British Scientists working on data they had gathered at Halley Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf discovered the existence of a hole in this layer. In 1998, NASA satellite data showed that the Antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, covering 27 million km² (10 million sq mi). It was eventually determined that the destruction of the ozone was caused by chlorofluorocarbons emitted by human products. With the ban of CFCs in the Montreal Protocol of 1989, it is believed that the ozone hole will close up over the next fifty years.

Princess Elisabeth Polar Science Station

On September 6, 2007, Belgian-based International Polar Foundation unveiled the Princess Elisabeth station, the world's first zero-emissions polar science station in Antarctica to research climate change. Costing $16.3 million, the prefabricated station, which is part of International Polar Year will be shipped to the South Pole from Belgium by the end of 2008 to monitor the health of the polar regions. Belgian polar explorer Alain Hubert has stated: "This base will be the first of its kind to produce zero emissions, making it a unique model of how energy should be used in the Antarctic." Johan Berte is the leader of the station design team and manager of the project which will conduct research in climatology, glaciology and microbiology.[52]

Meteorites

Antarctic meteorite, named ALH84001, from Mars.

Meteorites from Antarctica are an important area of study of material formed early in the solar system; most are thought to come from asteroids, but some may have originated on larger planets. The first meteorites were found in 1912. In 1969, a Japanese expedition discovered nine meteorites. Most of these meteorites have fallen onto the ice sheet in the last million years. Motion of the ice sheet tends to concentrate the meteorites at blocking locations such as mountain ranges, with wind erosion bringing them to the surface after centuries beneath accumulated snowfall. Compared with meteorites collected in more temperate regions on Earth, the Antarctic meteorites are well-preserved.[53]

This large collection of meteorites allows a better understanding of the abundance of meteorite types in the solar system and how meteorites relate to asteroids and comets. New types of meteorites and rare meteorites have been found. Among these are pieces blasted off the Moon, and probably Mars, by impacts. These specimens, particularly ALH84001 discovered by ANSMET, are at the center of the controversy about possible evidence of microbial life on Mars. Because meteorites in space absorb and record cosmic radiation, the time elapsed since the meteorite hit the Earth can be determined from laboratory studies. The elapsed time since fall, or terrestrial residence age, of a meteorite represents more information that might be useful in environmental studies of Antarctic ice sheets.[53]

In 2006, a team of researchers from Ohio State University used gravity measurements by NASA's GRACE satellites to discover the 300-mile (480 km)-wide Wilkes Land crater, which probably formed about 250 million years ago.[54]

Volcanic eruption

On January, 2008, the British Antarctic Survey (Bas) scientists led by Hugh Corr and David Vaughan, reported (in the journal Nature Geoscience) that 2,200 years ago, a volcano erupted under Antarctica ice sheet (based on airborne survey with radar images). The biggest eruption in the last 10,000 years, the volcanic ash was found deposited on the ice surface under the Hudson Mountains, close to Pine Island Glacier.[55]

Economy Economy - overview: Fishing off the coast and tourism, both based abroad, account for Antarctica's limited economic activity. Antarctic fisheries in 2004-05 (1 July-30 June) reported landing 147,000 metric tons (estimated fishing from the area covered by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which extends slightly beyond the Antarctic Treaty area). Unregulated fishing, particularly of Patagonian toothfish, is a serious problem. The CCAMLR determines the recommended catch limits for marine species. A total of 26,245 tourists visited in the 2005-06 Antarctic summer, up from the 22,712 visitors the previous year. Nearly all of them were passengers on commercial (nongovernmental) ships and several yachts that make trips during the summer. Most tourist trips last approximately two weeks.
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 0; note - information for US bases only (2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: local systems at some research stations
domestic: commercial cellular networks operating in a small number of locations
international: country code - 672; via satellite (including mobile Inmarsat and Iridium systems) from all research stations, ships, aircraft, and most field parties (2001)
Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM 2, shortwave 1 (information for US bases only) (2002)
Radios: NA
Television broadcast stations: 1 (cable system with 6 channels; American Forces Antarctic Network-McMurdo - information for US bases only) (2002)
Televisions: several hundred at McMurdo Station (US)
note: information for US bases only (2001)
Internet country code: .aq
Internet hosts: 7,744 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA
Transportation Airports: 26 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 26
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 6 (2007)
Heliports: 53
note: all 37 year-round and 16 seasonal stations operated by National Antarctic Programs stations have restricted helicopter landing facilities (helipads) (2007)
Ports and terminals: there are no developed ports and harbors in Antarctica; most coastal stations have offshore anchorages, and supplies are transferred from ship to shore by small boats, barges, and helicopters; a few stations have a basic wharf facility; US coastal stations include McMurdo (77 51 S, 166 40 E), and Palmer (64 43 S, 64 03 W); government use only except by permit (see Permit Office under "Legal System"); all ships at port are subject to inspection in accordance with Article 7, Antarctic Treaty; offshore anchorage is sparse and intermittent; relevant legal instruments and authorization procedures adopted by the states parties to the Antarctic Treaty regulating access to the Antarctic Treaty area, to all areas between 60 and 90 degrees of latitude south, have to be complied with (see "Legal System"); The Hydrographic Committee on Antarctica (HCA), a special hydrographic commission of International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), is responsible for hydrographic surveying and nautical charting matters in Antarctic Treaty area; it coordinates and facilitates provision of accurate and appropriate charts and other aids to navigation in support of safety of navigation in region; membership of HCA is open to any IHO Member State whose government has acceded to the Antarctic Treaty and which contributes resources and/or data to IHO Chart coverage of the area; members of HCA are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, NZ, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the UK (2006)
Military Military - note: the Antarctic Treaty prohibits any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, or the testing of any type of weapon; it permits the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: Antarctic Treaty freezes claims (see Antarctic Treaty Summary in Government type entry); Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, NZ, Norway, and UK claim land and maritime sectors (some overlapping) for a large portion of the continent; the US and many other states do not recognize these territorial claims and have made no claims themselves (the US and Russia reserve the right to do so); no claims have been made in the sector between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west
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