Challenges facing the future of Antarctica
A century ago, Antarctica was one of Earth's last frontiers, but now the continent is under threat from human activity.
An international team of experts, including scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), has set out the current and future conservation challenges facing the Antarctic in a Policy Forum article published this week in the journal Science.
The team analysed the effectiveness of the existing Antarctic Treaty System for protecting the region from the threats of climate change and, as technology improves, increasing prospects of use of the Antarctic's natural resources.
Using a horizon scanning approach, the team determined that the major short-term threats included climate change impacts on marine systems, marine resource use, ocean acidification, invasive alien species, pollution, habitat alteration and regulatory challenges within the Treaty system.
Lead author Professor Steven Chown, Head of Biological Sciences at Monash University said the impacts of climate change were particularly worrying.
"Interactions between resource use and climate change are especially significant threats", Professor Chown said.
"Climate change is increasing the risk of the introduction of non-indigenous species. Several alien species, which have track records of being highly invasive, are already present in the Peninsula region and the risks are growing."
The team also looked at the likely situation in half a century. In the longer-term, climate change impacts on terrestrial systems, and the impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms are growing threats.
Flags of Antarctica courtesy BAS.
Read more at British Antarctic Survey.