Global Geological And Climatic Events

[PREMIUM] To the South Pole – Antarctica


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Antarctica Region

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

The Antarctic Treaty has sparked debates among policymakers, scientists, and the public, as they weigh the balance between environmental conservation, economic interests, and geopolitical concerns in Antarctica.

About Antarctica

    • Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent, covering an area of approximately 14 million square km.
    • It is situated entirely within the Antarctic Circle, with its geographic center near the South Pole.
    • It is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on Earth.
    • The interior of Antarctica is a polar desert, receiving very little precipitation, mostly in the form of snow.
  • The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the largest single mass of ice on Earth, containing approximately 70% of the world’s freshwater.

Geographical Features:

  • The continent is home to several mountain ranges, including the Transantarctic Mountains.
  • Vinson Massif is the highest peak at 4,892 meters (16,050 feet) above sea level.
Ice Shelves Large floating ice shelves extend along the coast, formed by glaciers flowing from the interior, crucial for stabilizing the Antarctic ice sheet.
Glaciers Numerous glaciers flow from the high interior to the coast, including Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier, among the largest and fastest-moving in the world.
  • Glaciers calve off large chunks of ice, forming icebergs of various sizes.
  • Antarctic Iceberg A-68, which broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in 2017, was one of the largest recorded.
Plateaus Much of Antarctica’s interior consists of high, flat plateaus covered by ice, reaching elevations over 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level.
Ice-Free Areas Despite being predominantly ice-covered, some ice-free areas exist along the coastlines and in the Antarctic Peninsula region, supporting limited vegetation and wildlife.

Territorial Claims on Antarctica:

The countries with territorial claims in Antarctica are:

  1. Argentina: Claims a sector of Antarctica known as Argentine Antarctica.
  2. Australia: Claims the Australian Antarctic Territory.
  3. Chile: Claims a sector of Antarctica known as Chilean Antarctic Territory.
  4. France: Claims a sector of Antarctica known as Adélie Land.
  5. New Zealand: Claims the Ross Dependency.
  6. Norway: Claims a sector of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.
  7. United Kingdom: Claims a sector of Antarctica known as the British Antarctic Territory.
  8. United States: Claims a sector of Antarctica known as the Marie Byrd Land.

India’s Antarctic Outreach

  • Initiated in 1981, India’s Antarctic Program, managed by National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, encompasses multi-disciplinary research expeditions.
  • With the establishment of research bases like Dakshin Gangotri (1983) (now decommissioned), Maitri (1989), and Bharati (2012), India contributes significantly to Antarctic exploration.
  • Notably, India’s presence in Antarctica includes a Post Office established in 1984, facilitating communication and research logistics.



[2011] The formation of ozone hole in the Antarctic region has been a cause of concern. What could be the reason for the formation of this hole?

(a) Presence of prominent tropospheric turbulence; and inflow of chlorofluorocarbons

(b) Presence of prominent polar front and stratospheric’: Clouds; and inflow of chlorofluorocarbons

(c) Absence of polar front and stratospheric clouds; and inflow of methane and chlorofluorocarbons

(d) Increased temperature at polar region due to global warming.

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