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Antarctic and Southern Ocean stories

Antarctic footprint

How big is the human 'footprint’ on one of our last frontiers, Antarctica? Thanks to Tasmanian scientists, we now know the answer – 93,000 km2. That’s the ‘visual footprint’ on the icy continent, in other words, the area from which human activity can be seen. What’s more, this human disturbance is greatest on the most environmentally ice-free areas along the coast. Scientists from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) used satellite images to measure stations, huts, runways, waste sites and tourist camps at 158 locations. Research leader, Shaun Brooks, believes these revelations could have important conservation implications: "There is a growing tension between the increasing pressure for access to the continent and international commitments to protect the Antarctic environment. Hopefully our research can help to inform a sustainable balance between these competing imperatives.”

26 May 2019, Edition 205

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