Magnetic Fields from Antarctic research stations a potential problem
Antarctic research stations could be adversely affecting the local environment by emitting magnetic pollution, a new study has found.
A new aerial survey is the first to research and assess the possible impact of a research station in Antarctica on magnetic fields.
Estimations indicated that the station generated a magnetic field that extends up to 650 metres from the station with a peak strength of 2800 nanotesla (nT) within 100 metres from the station on the ground.
This may have implications for organisms in Antarctica that are negatively affected by magnetic fields but the report's authors say further research is needed to investigate this.
Protection of the environment is an essential premise of the Antarctic Treaty. As such, there is a scientific community of 53 active research stations operating in Antarctica to study the environment as well as evaluating and monitoring human impacts on the environment and associated ecosystems.
However, the presence and actions of the research community itself can affect the fragile environment. One of the less considered impacts of Antarctic research is the change in magnetic fields caused by the communication and energy production devices of the scientific stations and their facilities.
Previous studies have indicated changes in magnetic fields can have an impact on plants, animals and humans. For example, they could affect blood flow, the activity of the pineal gland (which regulates wake/sleep functions and seasonal patterns) and the control of pain in humans and animals.
The study is the first to evaluate the significance of the possible impact of a research station on magnetic fields in Antarctica. The station's magnetic field was measured from a helicopter at 320 metres from the ground to allow data to be rapidly collected and a large area of ground to be covered in a short amount of time.
Antarctic research station photo via Shutterstock.
Read more at ENN Affiliate, ClickGreen.