Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Antarctic Science Why U.S. Leadership and Investments Matter 1
Preface The Antarctic environment and the life that dwells there are perhaps best encapsulated by these words: tenacious, yet fragile. The continentâs vast ice sheetâwhich blankets thousands of miles of land with millions of years of accumulated snow and iceâis dominating, formidable, and humbling. Yet, it is also showing signs of loss and decay, as warming temperatures eat away at its icy edges. Antarcticaâs incredible life forms have found a way to thrive in impossible places: penguins huddling together against the wind, microbes thriving in the ancient dark of subglacial lakes, non-freezable fish darting through sub-freezing temperatures in the deep ocean, and plants flourishing for a brief and glorious summer before retreating for a long winterâs nap. Yet, now and in the coming years, many of these organisms face growing stresses from climate change and the impacts of increased human activity in the Antarcticâstresses for which they are unpreparedâpotentially threatening their survival and upending ecosystems. Humanityâs relationship with Antarctica is also tenacious yet fragile. For centuries, the tenacious quest for discovery has driven people to endure arduous journeys into Antarcticaâs farthest reaches, documenting their observations with painstaking rigor. To this day, the work remains difficult and dangerous, demanding meticulous planning, complex logistics, and deep respect for the environment. For decades, countries around the world have fostered a unified vision for Antarctica and forged alliances to explore its wonders, upholding systems of cooperation that have withstood the political divisions between nations. Yet this unity could be fragile if international tensions or economic demands eventually lead to the consideration of exploiting Antarctica for resources beyond just knowledge and understanding. This tenacious, fragile continent inspires awe and demands respect. It also needs our protection. This booklet, drawing primarily from reports of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine,1 captures a multitude of insights gainedâand soughtâfrom U.S. research investments in this remarkable place. As is evident from the wide range of scientific activities, Antarctica both holds immense value for advancing human knowledge and faces immense threats from human influences on the environment, the impacts of which have global consequences. A continued commitment to science, cooperation, and a shared vision for the future are required to build on this rich history of discovery and answer crucial questions in the decades ahead.
G HÃ KON VI South Orkney Is KON I HA Signy (UK) V BULISEN FIM lheime n S bu Fim South DRONNING MAUD Th O LAND or s A NT h avn Shetland BRUNT h eine WEDDELL ICE ENDERBY Scott Mtns SHELF LAND U Is AR G RA H TIC SEA Halley (UK) C PE N AM T Anvers I. KEMP LAND Palmer (USA) COATS LAND LARSEN INS Dome LA ICE SHELF Fuji ND U (Valkyrie) H E Adelaide I. FILCHNER PA MACROBERTSON LA ICE Shackleton Rothera (UK) LM Berkner SHELF Range ns E Island Pri nce Charles Mt RONNE AMERY R ICE SHELF Alexander I. ICE LA Prydz LAND SHELF EAST ANTARCTICA Bay ND R N Pe ns a c PRINCESS o la QUEEN ELIZABETH ELIZABETH BELLINGSHAUSEN Vinson Dome M s LAND Argus LAND tn Massif 400 0 Tra 4892m s SEA tn Ells M South Pole worth Thiel 90Â°W Mtns WILHELM II 90Â°E A BBOT IC E SH E Peter I Ãy ELLSWORTH LAND Amundsen-Scott (USA) Davis LAND n a s Whitmore n Sea ta O C E Mtns WEST rc S O U QUEEN MARY Queen t i Elizabeth Queen SHACKLETON LF c Range Subglacial LAND ANTARCTICA ICE Maud Lake Vostok SHELF Mtns M 30 00 AMUNDSEN o MARIE Â°S un Queen SEA Executive BYRD 80 Alexandra GE Committee WILKES tai Range LAND TZ Range ROSS Dome LAND IC A N Circe E H ICE ns EL S T F SHELF 2000 McMurdo VI (USA) H CT OR Mt Erebus IA L Â°S E ROSS SEA TERRE 70 A ND GEORGE V ADÃLIE R LAND OATES LAND N Dumont dâUrville Sea O C Â°S Balleny Is 60 E 180Â° A 0 1000 2000 N Km 0 200 400 600 800 1000 Miles SOURCE: Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica team. Group photo taken at the geographic South Pole. SOURCE: Christopher Michel. (front cover)
Contents Introduction1 Unparalleled Opportunity for Discovery 4 A Linchpin in the Global Climate System 5 Learning from Earthâs Least Polluted Environment 10 A Unique Biological Laboratory 13 Peering into the Universe 16 U.S. Science and Policy Leadership in the Antarctic 18 The U.S. Antarctic Program 19 International Cooperation 24 Cutting-Edge Science at the Edge of the World 28 Observing the West Antarctic Ice Sheet 30 Studying Antarctic Life at the Genomic Level 32 Measuring the Cosmic Microwave Background 33 Other Groundbreaking Antarctic Research 34 Conclusion40 Endnotes43