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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First species of Yeti crab named Kiwa Tyleri found in Antarctica

Team of British scientists have discovered the first species of Yeti crab from hydrothermal vent systems in Antarctica. Study in this regard was published in the journal Plos One.

Researches have christened this species as Kiwa Tyleri after world-renowned British deep-sea and polar biologist professor Paul Tyler.

Characteristics of Kiwa Tyleri

  • Kiwa Tyleri species are found usually in warm-water refuge of hydrothermal vent systems surrounded by the cold polar waters in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica.
  • It lives in very limited sized habitat near the warm-water hydrothermal vent site.
  • This species is unable to move between vent sites because of the hostile, low temperature and extreme polar environment. So they, occur in highly-packed densities.
  • For food it is dependent on chemosynthetic bacteria which overgrow the surfaces of hydrothermal vent chimneys.
  • Its body is densely covered by bristles known as setae. It has fur like appearance due to bacteria living on it.

Terms

  • Hydrothermal vent systems: It is a fissure releasing geothermally heated water which comes out on planet’s surface. Commonly found in active volcanic places.
  • Chemosynthetic bacteria: They obtain energy from exothermic oxidation of inorganic or simple organic compounds in absence of light. This energy is utilized for metabolic processes.

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