IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


14th December, 2023 Geography


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  • Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Ajay Bhatt flagged-in, in New Delhi on December 13, 2023, a team of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling that carried out ‘Mission Antarctica’.
  • The expedition, which commenced in 2021, was undertaken by a team of three trekkers, led by Group Captain Jai Kishan.

About Antarctica

  • Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent in terms of total area as it is larger than both Oceania and Europe.
  • Antarctica is a unique continent in that it does not have a native human population.
  • There are no countries in Antarctica, although seven nations claim different parts of it: New Zealand, Australia, France, Norway, the United Kingdom, Chile, and Argentina.
  • Despite its size and harsh environment, Antarctica is vulnerable to damage from human activities.
  • The continent of Antarctica comprises the majority of the Antarctic region.
  • The Antarctic Convergence encompasses a frigid, desolate territory in the Southern Hemisphere known as the Antarctic.
  • The Antarctic Convergence is an irregular line of latitude where frigid, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet warmer ocean waters.
  • The Antarctic takes up roughly 20% of the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The Antarctic also includes island territories within the Antarctic Convergence.
  • The islands of the Antarctic region are:
  • The South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands, all claimed by the United Kingdom;
  • Peter I Island and Bouvet Island, claimed by Norway;
  • Heard and McDonald Islands, claimed by Australia;
  • Scott Island and the Balleny Islands, claimed by New Zealand.

Physical Geography of Antarctica

  • The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the world's largest single chunk of ice.
  • The ice surface expands substantially from approximately three million square kilometers (1.2 million square miles) at the end of summer to approximately 19 million square kilometers (7.3 million square miles) by winter.
  • The Transantarctic Mountains, which divide Antarctica into eastern and western areas, have multiple high peaks.
  • Without ice, Antarctica would form a massive peninsula and archipelago of mountainous islands known as Lesser Antarctica, as well as a single enormous continent around the size of Australia known as Greater Antarctica.
  • Greater Antarctica, or East Antarctica, is composed of older, igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • Lesser Antarctica, or West Antarctica, is made up of younger, volcanic and sedimentary rock. It is part of the Ring of Fire around the Pacific Ocean.
  • Mount Erebus, located on Antarctica’s Ross Island, is the southernmost active volcano on Earth.

Climate and Waters

  • Antarctica has a harsh, arid climate.
  • The average winter temperature along Antarctica's coast ranges from -10° to -30° C (14° to -22° F).
  • Coastal locations in the summer have temperatures that range from 0°C (32°F) to 9°C (48°F).
  • The Antarctic region is crucial to global climate systems. It is an essential component of the Earth's thermal balance.
  • Ice reflects more light than land or ocean surfaces. The vast Antarctic Ice Sheet reflects a significant amount of solar radiation away from the Earth's surface.
  • The reflectance of the Earth's surface diminishes when global ice cover (ice sheets and glaciers) declines.
  • This allows more incoming solar radiation to be absorbed by the Earth's surface, resulting in an unbalanced heat balance associated with global warming, the current phase of climate change.
  • The waters surrounding Antarctica constitute an important component of the "ocean conveyor belt," a global system in which water travels around the world based on density and currents.
  • Antarctic Bottom Water, the chilly seas surrounding Antarctica, are so dense that they push up against the ocean floor.
  • Warmer waters rise or upwell as a result of the Antarctic Bottom Water.
  • Antarctic upwelling is so powerful that it aids in the movement of water around the entire planet. Strong winds that circumnavigate Antarctica contribute to this travel.
  • Earth's waters would not flow in a balanced and effective manner without the assistance of the oceans surrounding Antarctica.
  • The National Geographic Society designated the Antarctic Ocean as the Southern Ocean in 2021.

Flora and fauna

  • Lichens, mosses, and terrestrial algae are among the few plant species found in Antarctica.
  • The northern and coastal sections of Antarctica have more of this vegetation, while the interior has little to no vegetation.
  • Thousands of species, including krill, feed on plankton. In the chilly Antarctic waters, fish and a wide diversity of marine mammals flourish.
  • Antarctica has healthy populations of blue (Balaenoptera musculus), fin (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae), right, minke, sei (Balaenoptera borealis), and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus).
  • The leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) is a top predator in Antarctica. The leopard seal is one of the most vicious marine predators.
  • The penguin is undoubtedly the most well-known animal in Antarctica. They've adapted to the frigid waters of the shore.

Indian Antarctic Program

  • The Indian Antarctic Programme is managed by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), which is part of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • The first Indian Antarctic expedition took place in
  • After India ratified the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and erected the Dakshin Gangotri Antarctic research station, which was replaced by the Maitri location in 1989, the initiative gained global acceptance.
  • Bharati, a base composed of 134 shipping containers, was the most recently operational in
  • As part of the initiative, India has launched 40 scientific expeditions to the Antarctic and is studying atmospheric, biological, earth, chemical, and pharmaceutical sciences.


Antarctica's ice sheets are considered a critical factor in global sea-level rise, and their melting has far-reaching implications for the world. Discuss the primary causes and consequences of Antarctica's ice melt. (250 words)