Research

What is the actual size of a man’s footprint in Antarctica?

Over the past decades, humanitytrying to master the Antarctic. After the adoption of the Antarctic Treaty of 1961, human activity on this continent began to be governed by the rule of law, as scientists began to worry that human presence could adversely affect the Antarctic environment. But what is actually the visual footprint of a person in the southernmost continent?

To find out, Sean Brooks of the UniversityTasmania, with a group of researchers, studied satellite observations from 2005–2016. As a result, it turned out that man-made buildings and structures occupy about 39 hectares of the continent - this is only the fifth part of one of the smallest states - Monaco. The buildings occupy less than half the percent of the entire continent, and half of them take into account coastal waters.

For every person who works forAntarctic stations, comes to about 1,000 square meters of developed area, according to a study. Scientists have found traces of humans in more than half of the large coastal areas of Antarctica without ice. This caused certain concerns, as there are rare species of animals that are seen exclusively on the southern continent.

We contacted one of the authors of the study, Sean Brooks, who said that even with this study in mind, it is impossible to say exactly what area of ​​Antarctica a person has mastered.

Many traces of human activity are not visible onsatellite imagery. Therefore, it is difficult to assess the true scale, as well as compliance with the Antarctic Treaty. The data from 2016 to 2018 were also not taken into account, which could greatly change the picture due to the reduction in the Antarctic sea ice area over the years.

Recall the area of ​​the Antarctic sea ice inthe beginning of this year fell to 5.5 million square kilometers, and this is the minimum in almost 40 years of observation. According to the results published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Antarctic ice sheet in 2017 alone lost more than 250 billion tons of ice