Antarctica has not always been a place of ice and snow. Once part of the supercontinent of Gondwanaland, it is believed to have enjoyed a warmer climate in which plants and land animals thrived. However, nowadays less than one percent of the surface is ice free, and at bedrock level the ice can be up to a million or more years old. In comparison, the Arctic consists entirely of pack-ice which breaks into ice floes in summer and floats on the Arctic Ocean.
While the ice gives rise to spectacular scenery, both on land and sea, these regions also have an astonishing variety of wildlife. The two Poles have few common species (apart from some birds and whales) but many unique endemic ones - polar bears, walruses and puffins in the north, penguins and elephant seals in the south.
The content will cover the following topics, among others:
Geography and geology Climate and weather Ice, icebergs, glaciers and land formations History and exploration Wildlife and flora - how unique life has evolved in a very harsh environment Polar science - the scientists who live and work in Antarctica, the research basesIcebreaker shipping and tourism Politics and treaties and the interested parties, including the 1988 Minerals ConventionThe people of the Arctic Conservation and the future (specific Polar issues, such as melting of the ice caps and ozone depletion).
Both regions have long been associated with tales of great heroism in their exploration, and here too there are common links. Roald Amundsen was first to the South Pole and died in a rescue in the north (at that time his ship, the Fram, had been furthest south and furthest north). Frederic Cook, who lodged a false claim to being first to the North Pole, was the first to winter over in Antarctica, as part of a Belgian expedition. Nowadays, tourists can visit in cruise ships and see the almost impossible task the explorers set themselves.
Both areas are of concern ecologically. For several years there has been a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica; one is now opening over the Arctic Circle. Ecologists watch both Antarctica and the Arctic for any signs of change that may have implications for the planet as a whole. They join scientists from all over the world conducting research in these unique conditions.
With interesting and authoritative text written by a team of international experts, accompanied by over a thousand superb photographs, this book will fascinate all with an interest in the Poles and their wildlife.show more