Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Waste Dump at the End of the World

07.02.2013
Ecologists of Jena University (Germany) propose managing strategies to protect the Antarctic

On their mission to the moon in 1969 the Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin created arguably the most famous footprints ever. Since the time the astronauts of the Apollo 11 Mission stepped onto the surface of our satellite their footprints remain almost unchanged. And as no breath of wind will ever be able to blow them away they will be visible forever.


The Antarctic waste reality: a Chinese refuse dump on Fildes Penninsula/King George Island in the 2008/09 season. Photo: Anja Nordt/FSU

Not quite so old but equally ‘immortal’ are many traces that have been left behind by humans at the South Pole of the Earth. This is the result of a report on the ‘Current Ecological Situation of the Fildes Peninsula Region and Management Suggestions‘: The report, written and published by scientists of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany), has been commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt).

According to their findings, the environment of the Antarctic is by far less intact than many people might think: Tracks of car tires and tire chains have ploughed the sparse vegetation for kilometer after kilometer. Leftovers from derelict experimental set-ups and field huts are slowly decomposing. Rubbish – some of it containing dangerous chemicals, discarded oil cans and car batteries – is lying in the open. On top of this there are coastal waters and beaches suffering oil-pollution as a result of poor handling of fuel at the stations.

”We have a genuine waste problem in the Antarctic,” says Dr. Hans-Ulrich Peter of the University Jena who was in charge writing the report. Most of all this concerns King George Island, about 120 kilometers off the Antarctic Continent. It is there, more precisely on the Fildes Peninsula, where the ecologist has been doing research on a regular basis since 1983 and meticulously documented the changes in the environment.

“The Fildes Peninsula is one of the largest ice-free areas of the Antarctic with a relatively high degree of biodiversity,” Dr. Peter says. As a result the region has attracted a lot of scientific interest, along with the building of six permanently occupied stations including an aircraft runway concentrated in a relatively small area, which turned it into the logistic hub of the international Antarctic research – with all consequences of permanent human settlement. In this context ecologists of the University Jena noticed that during the last thirty years not only the global climate change can be gravely felt in the Antarctic, natural life is equally threatened by the influence of human beings on the local environment of the south polar region.

“Due to the extreme climatic conditions the sensitive vegetation only recovers very slowly,“ Christina Braun, a member of Dr. Peter’s team, says. She has visited King George Island seven times already for research purposes. “Vehicle tracks sometimes remain there for decades.“ But the vegetation is not only damaged by vehicles and building work. According to Christina Braun the unique flora of the Antarctic is equally threatened by ‘imported‘ plants. “Some years ago we found some non-native plants nearby the Russian research station Bellingshausen.“ Insects and other animal and plant species inadvertently imported by participants of expedition present dangers for the ecosystem.

“If there isn’t a profound change of direction, these negative environmental influences will be amplified in the next few years,“ Hans-Ulrich Peter says. Therefore in approximately 130 pages of their report the German ecologists make specific suggestions for the management of this sensitive region: The crucial point is the designation of the Fildes Peninsula as an ‘Antarctic Specially Managed Area’ (ASMA). With this specific administrative instrument legally binding standards concerning the use of the region would be determined. The proposed measure could reduce the conflicting interests between science, tourism and the protection of geological and historical sites as well as keeping its environment intact. However, Dr. Peter regrets that the lack of consensus among the Antarctic Treaty states is blocking the realization of the proposal so far.

The complete report in English can be downloaded here: http://www.umweltdaten.de/publikationen/fpdf-l/4424.pdf.

Contact:
Dr. Hans-Ulrich Peter, Christina Braun
Institute of Ecology
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Dornburger Straße 159
D-07743 Jena
Phone: ++49 (0)3641 / 949415
Email: hans-ulrich.peter[at]uni-jena.de, christina.braun77[at]gmx.de

Ute Schönfelder | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-jena.de/en/start.html
http://www.umweltdaten.de/publikationen/fpdf-l/4424.pdf

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht 100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?
15.06.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>