Antartica Current Affairs

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Antartica’s Ross Sea declared as world’s largest Marine Protected Area

Antartica’s Ross Sea was declared as world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) to protect the Earth’s most pristine marine ecosystem.

It was declared after landmark international agreement among 24 countries and European Union in Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart, Australia.

Key Facts

  • The Ross Sea is one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world. It covers 1.6 million square kilometers.ross-sea
  • MPA status to Ross Sea will bring blanket ban on commercial fishing across about three quarters of its area for 35 years.
  • Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean is home to 38% of the world’s Adelie penguins, 30% of world’s Antarctic petrels and around 6% of world’s population of Antarctic minke whales.
  • It is also home to huge numbers of krill, a staple food for species including whales and seals.

What is Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)?

  • The CCAMLR was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. It is part of the Antarctic Treaty System.
  • It was signed by 14 states and has been ratified by 35 states (including India) and the European Community
  • Headquarters: Tasmania, Australia.
  • Goal: Preserve marine life and environmental integrity in and near Antarctica
  • The CCAMLR was established in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem and over-exploitation of several other marine resources in the Southern Ocean.

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Sea ice cover around Antarctica is rising: NASA-led study

A new NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)-led study has found that sea ice cover surrounding Antarctica has been increasing slightly.

This study shows sharp contrast to the drastic loss of sea ice occurring in the Arctic Ocean to global temperature rise.

The research study was based on data collected from satellite radar, ocean depth, temperature at sea surface and also consisted land form to study.

Key findings

  • The inverse phenomenon for this rise of the sea ice cover was observed due to geology of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
  • Two persistent geological factors for the rise were the topography of Antarctica and the depth of the ocean surrounding it.
  • These two geological factors are influencing ocean currents and winds to drive the formation and evolution of Antarctica’s sea ice cover and help sustain it.
  • In this inverse phenomenon, sea ice forms and builds up early in the sea ice growth season
  • This ice later due to winds gets pushed offshore and northward forming a protective shield of thicker, older ice that circulates around the continent.
  • The persistent winds flowing down slope off the continent plays important role in piling of ice up against the massive ice shield, enhancing its thickness.
  • The thickness of band of this ice varies in width from roughly 100 to 1,000 km. It protects and encapsulates younger, thinner ice from being reduced by winds and waves.
  • This ice drifts away from the continent as the sea ice cover expands creating ice factories conducive to rapid sea ice growth.

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