Antarctica and the Antarctic region
Norway and six other countries have territorial claims in Antarctica - some of which overlap each other. To avoid conflicts, the question of sovereignty has literally been put on ice through the Antarctic Treaty (1959), which also prohibits military and nuclear activity on the continent. In this way, the Treaty has made Antarctica a continent dedicated to peace and science.
The Norwegian Polar Institute is the environmental administrative authority for Bouvetoya, a small ice-covered island just north of the Antarctic Treaty Area, and for Norwegian activity south of the 60th parallel. The Institute is also Norwegian authorities’ principal adviser with respect to implementation of the Environmental Protocol (see fact box).
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent on Earth, and covers approx. 14 million km2. This area is doubled during the winter, when the sea ice extends almost 1000 km from the coast.
The ice on the continent can tell us how the climate has evolved over several hundred thousand years, and Antarctica is therefore an important reference area for international environmental research.
Climate change, consequences of increased tourism and introduction of alien species are all issues related to activities on the continent.
Facts about Antarctica
- 14 million square kilometers – or 40 times the size of Norway
- 98 % of the continent is covered by ice and snow
- Contains 90 % of all the ice in the world
- At its thickest, the ice is measured to be 4776 meters thick
- If all the ice in Antarctica melted, sea levels on Earth would increase by approx. 70 meters
- Record cold: - 89.2 °C
- Has a unique and vulnerable wildlife
- There is little vegetation, and only two flowering species
- 45 species of birds nest in the area
- Through the Antarctic Treaty the continent is dedicated to peace, environmental protection and research
- The Norwegian Polar Institute is the national management authority over the environmental regulations for the Antarctic and preservation regulations for Bouvetøya
- Since 1976/77, Norwegian scientists have conducted regular expeditions to the Norwegian claim area Dronning Maud Land
- Learn more about the environment and climate in the Antarctic
Polar operations in the Antarctic
Research in the polar regions are demanding. Not least from a logistical point of view. Large distances, cold climate and general lack of infrastructure sets great demands on the transport apparatus, equipment and security. Nowhere is this more visible than in the Antarctic: distances are enormous, extreme climate and the infrastructure is very spread out.
In parallel with the construction of the all-year station Troll in Dronning Maud Land, the Norwegian Polar Institute has built up a significant support system for procurement, transportation, staffing, training and operational and technical operations related to the station.
Planning activities in the Antarctic?
If you're planning visits or activities in the Antarctic region, please note that you must inform the Norwegian Polar Institute (or one of the other treaty states) no later than one year in advance.
So far, the Antarctic has been less affected by climate change than the Arctic, and the temperature in Antarctica is generally very low. Several factors contribute to this, including low solar radiation in winter, the ability to reflect solar radiation, the cooling effect of long wave radiation from the continent to the continent's and height above sea level.
The Antarctic is home to unique and vulnerable wildlife. Vegetation is scarce and consists largely of algae, lichens and mosses. Only two blooming plants are found here.
Penguins account for 85% of the biomass of Antarctic seabirds. These birds are tightly connected to the marine environment, from which they get all their sustenance. They spend much of their lives at sea, gathering on land to breed.
Quantarctica is a collection of Antarctic geographical datasets which works with the free, open-source software Quantum GIS. The package is freely available for non-commercial use in research, education, and operation in Antarctica.
The Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) and the Japanese National Institute for Polar Research (NIPR) chose today to strengthen their cooperation on polar research in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Melting at the base of Antarctica's Fimbul Ice Shelf is driven by warm surface water, as well as intermittent pulses of warmer, deeper water.