[54] In 2004, a potentially active underwater volcano was found in the Antarctic Peninsula by American and Canadian researchers. A desert is an area that receives a significantly small amount of rainfall. Realizing the importance of preserving the peace and sanctity of the pristine habitats of Antarctica for the welfare of the world, the countries active in the continent signed an Antarctic Treaty on December 1st, 1959. The habitats near the Antarctic coast, meanwhile, are comparatively much more hospitable, and thrive with marine and semi-aquatic animals like large colonies of penguins. [38] In addition, Shackleton and three other members of his expedition made several firsts in December 1908 – February 1909: they were the first humans to traverse the Ross Ice Shelf, the first to traverse the Transantarctic Mountains (via the Beardmore Glacier), and the first to set foot on the South Polar Plateau. Instead of inventing a new name to replace it, they took the name Australia from the south polar continent, leaving it nameless for some eighty years. Which desert is not owned by any country? The extent of sea ice around Antarctica (in terms of square kilometers of coverage) has remained roughly constant in recent decades, although the amount of variation it has experienced in its thickness is unclear. If all of this ice were melted, sea levels would rise about 60 m (200 ft). The ice was being held back by a "thread" of ice about 6 km (4 mi) wide,[171][172] prior to its collapse on 5 April 2009. The first meteorite was found in 1912 and named the Adelie Land meteorite. The elapsed time since fall, or terrestrial residence age, of a meteorite represents more information that might be useful in environmental studies of Antarctic ice sheets. Second, the Arctic Ocean covers the north polar zone: the ocean's relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in the Arctic regions from reaching the extremes typical of the land surface of Antarctica. This ice is formed from the ocean water and floats in the same water and thus does not contribute to rise in sea level. Several bases are now home to families with children attending schools at the station. Only scientific investigations and explorations and tourism are to be allowed, and even these only as long as they are not causing any harm to the pristine environments of Antarctica. Many of the stations are staffed year-round, the winter-over personnel typically arriving from their home countries for a one-year assignment. Medical physicians have made discoveries concerning the spreading of viruses and the body's response to extreme seasonal temperatures. The research is part of the global Census of Marine Life and has disclosed some remarkable findings. Not all vessels associated with Antarctic tourism are members of IAATO, but IAATO members account for 95% of the tourist activity. [180] In 2019, the ozone hole was at its smallest in the previous thirty years, due to the warmer polar stratosphere weakening the polar vortex. [156], A single 2015 study by H. Jay Zwally et al. [105] Growth is restricted to a few weeks in the summer. [146], A study from 2014 estimated that during the Pleistocene, the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) thinned by at least 500 m (1,600 ft), and that thinning since the Last Glacial Maximum for the EAIS area is less than 50 m (160 ft) and probably started after c. 14 ka. The first confirmed sightings of this landmass, however, did not take place until as late as the early 19th Century, when Russian, British, and American expeditions separately discovered the continent of Antarctica. Organisms native to Antarctica include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Over time these swamps became deposits of coal in the Transantarctic Mountains. The Roman authors Hyginus and Apuleius (1–2 centuries CE) used for the South Pole the romanised Greek name polus antarcticus,[12][13] from which derived the Old French pole antartike (modern pôle antarctique) attested in 1270, and from there the Middle English pol antartik in a 1391 technical treatise by Geoffrey Chaucer (modern Antarctic Pole). [137] The primary response by Antarctic Treaty Parties has been to develop, through their Committee for Environmental Protection and in partnership with IAATO, "site use guidelines" setting landing limits and closed or restricted zones on the more frequently visited sites. Global warming brings about the worst form of climatic changes to the continent, causing a rise in temperatures and a subsequent retreat of glaciers and ice slopes, collapses of ice shelves, and increased ocean acidification. [45] The first women to step onto the South Pole were Pam Young, Jean Pearson, Lois Jones, Eileen McSaveney, Kay Lindsay and Terry Tickhill in 1969. Antarctica, the world’s southernmost continent, is almost wholly covered by an ice sheet and is about 5.5 million square miles (14.2 million square km) in size. When speaking of deserts, we tend to imagine a landscape covered with vast stretches of golden sands, a scorching sun shining in the sky above, and a complete absence of the life-saving compound known as water. In 1984, Juan Pablo Camacho was born at the Frei Montalva Station, becoming the first Chilean born in Antarctica. Antarctica is a continent unto itself and is not a part of any country. This desert is so-defined because it has an annual precipitation of less than 8 inches along the coast and less than 2 inches in the interior. East Antarctica is colder than its western counterpart because of its higher elevation. Antarctic fisheries in 1998–99 (1 July – 30 June) reported landing 119,898 tonnes legally. Known as a desert for its lack of rain and precipitation, it nevertheless holds one of the greatest reserves of fresh water on the planet. This was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. The orbital distance contributes to a colder Antarctic winter (and a warmer Antarctic summer) but the first two effects have more impact. At 14,200,000 square kilometres (5,500,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. [108], The passing of the Antarctic Conservation Act (1978) in the U.S. brought several restrictions to U.S. activity on Antarctica. Besides these, the possibility of future commercial fishing and mining activities, both of which are currently illegal, remain as the depletion of future natural resources could force governments of countries to legalize the exploitation of the natural resources of this unspoiled piece of our world.