News Round-Up

Antarctica more widely impacted than previously thought


Antarctica is considered one of the Earth’s largest, most pristine remaining wildernesses. Yet since its formal discovery 200 years ago, the continent has seen accelerating human activity. Reporting in the journal Nature, a research team including Tilburg University show where human activities have been conducted and uncover two main concerns: wilderness in Antarctica is decreasing due to an increasing ‘human footprint’ and biodiversity is under pressure because species mainly depend on areas that are strongly influenced by humans. However, much opportunity exists to take swift action.

How widespread this human activity is across the Antarctic continent has never been quantified. We know Antarctica has no cities, agriculture or industry. But we have never had a good idea of where humans have been, how much of the continent remains untouched or largely unimpacted, and to what extent these largely unimpacted areas serve to protect biodiversity.

A team of researchers led by Monash University has changed all of that. Reporting on 15 July 2020 in the journal Nature, using a data set of 2.7 million human activity records, they show just how extensive human use of Antarctica has been over the last 200 years. MORE