People visited two-thirds of Antarctica

Only a third of Antarctica to date, never visited it, reported in a study in the journal Nature. To such conclusion scientists have reached based on the analysis of millions of records of human activity on the continent.

Antarctica is one of the most remote places on Earth, but human activity in this region increased markedly for the last two hundred years. To date, more than 30 countries have their own research station in Antarctica. In addition, it annually attracts more than 50 thousand tourists, and their number continues to grow, which poses a potential threat to biodiversity and wildlife. Nevertheless until now, scientists did not try to track what part of the continent was subjected to human impact.

Rachel Lahey (Rachel I. Leihy) of Monash University, together with colleagues analysed all available data on human activities in Antarctica since its discovery 200 years ago. Total scientists managed to receive 2.7 million records. Based on four generally accepted definitions of wildlife worldwide, they found that 99,57 to 100% of Antarctica (approximately 13.5 million square kilometers) can be considered intact.

However, when the researchers revised the approach and narrowed the definition of “wild nature” into areas that have never been visited by humans, the figure fell to about 32 percent. While scientists suggest that in reality this figure is even lower, since with high probability, not all trips to Antarctica have been documented. These untouched areas are crucial to the biodiversity of the region and also serve as the basis for measuring the anthropogenic impact on wildlife. At the same time, only a few region that are considered really important for living in the Antarctic species, have never been visited by humans. For example, only 16 percent of the important bird areas (areas which the international community defines as critical to bird conservation) remained “wild”.

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