Scientists in Antarctica

Why, How and What Questions answered.

Who Owns Antarticy?

Antarctica does not belong to any nation. It is governed under an international treaty that bars countries from owning or exploiting its land.

Photo: pixabay

The 1959 Antarctic Treaty, signed by 45 nations, suspended the claims of seven countries for territory in the region.

Today, Antarctica is designated as "continent for science", and only used for peaceful purposes.

What are the scientists in Antarctica doing?

They study the climate, weather, geology, and wildlife of this unique region.

Photo: Rene Asmussen

Their research has helped to highlight global problems, such as climate change.

During the summer, about 3,700 scientists work in the 46 or more scientific research stations scattered across the continent.

Only about 1,200 scientists remain in winter because of the intense cold.

How many scientists study in Antarctica?

During summer (the European's winter) as many as 10,000 scientists and support staff work there


Eighteen countries operate year-round scientific research stations on the continent and the surrounding islands and during summer (the UK's winter) as many as 10,000 scientists and support staff work there, but only about 1900 in winter.

How do scientists get to Antarctica?

Antarctica has 20 airports, but there are no developed public-access airports or landing facilities.


Transport in Antarctica takes place by air, using fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

Runways and helicopter pads have to be kept snow-free to ensure safe take-off and landing conditions.

Can non scientists go to Antarctica?

If you are a citizen of a country that is a signatory of the Antarctic Treaty, you do need to get permission to travel to Antarctica.


This is nearly always done through tour operators.

If you are going on your own, you will most likely be asked to register your intended visit, list your travel plans and possible environmental impact, and agree to follow the regulations of the Treaty.

If you come from a country that is not a signatory, you are not required to get a permit, but the ports that you leave from may insist that you have some sort of permission before you go.

Why are scientists interested in Antarctica?

Because of its profound effect on the Earth's climate and ocean systems.

Photo: Josy Mol

Locked in its four kilometre-thick ice sheet is a unique record of what our planet's climate was like over the past one million years.

Antarctic science has also revealed much about the impact of human activity on the natural world. The discovery in 1985 by scientists at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) of the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica revealed the damage done to the Earth’s atmosphere by man-made chemicals.

What to Eat in Antarctica?

Food with a high water content will freeze and will not be very tasty. The best foods for polar travel are strong tasting, high in fat and low in water content.

Based on its remote location, Antarctica is a destination without much native food.

  • Polar Pâté
  • Chocolate Truffles
  • Expedition Cake
  • Freeze Dried Cheese
  • Zero bars
  • Deep Fried Double Smoked Bacon

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