090 Ema Kuhn - A Life in Antarctica

03 . 03 . 2020

Contributors


Henry Páll Wulff
Expedition Guide, Naturalist
Chris Marquardt
Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Henry Páll Wulff

Expedition Guide, Naturalist

Chris Marquardt

Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Notes

Ema Kuhn is passionate about the Polar Regions. Always fascinated with life and nature, she decided at age 13 to become a biologist and dedicated 18 years to scientific research. Twelve years of her academic career were devoted to studying life in freezing and cold environments. An expert in Antarctic ecosystems, she has published several research papers and has a particular interest in how life adapts and evolves in cold environments. Her academic life gave Ema the opportunity to participate in 8 scientific expeditions to Antarctica, including the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctic Plateau (at 84°00' S/79°30' W), McMurdo Sound and Dry Valleys. Considering Antarctica her "home, sweet home" she is passionate about sharing her knowledge and introduce people to the mesmerizing beauty of this place. In this episode, she is sharing some of her passion with us.

089 Dome A - The heights of China's ambition in Antarctica

25 . 02 . 2020

Contributors


Henry Páll Wulff
Expedition Guide, Naturalist
Chris Marquardt
Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Henry Páll Wulff

Expedition Guide, Naturalist

Chris Marquardt

Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Notes

China's aim to declare a special managed area at the ice sheet’s highest point is a test of Antarctic governance. China has become more and more active in Antarctica in recent years – both in research and in the international framework of agreements known as the Antarctic Treaty System that has successfully seen the frozen continent devoted to peace and science for decades. Establishing an ASMA around the Kunlun Station in the area known as Dome Argus (Dome A), the highest place on the Antarctic ice sheet would essentially give China a greater say in the activities conducted in the area. China is a consultative party to the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and the creation of an ASMA around Kunlun would serve as a symbolic achievement to showcase China’s influence in the ATS. The proposal was first raised in 2013 – the year President Xi Jinping took office, where from outset he emphasised the importance of the emerging economy playing a key role in global governance. The proposal for Antarctica reflected what has been a general shift in Chinese diplomacy under Xi, from an attitude of “keep low” to “being active” in the international arena. While China’s enthusiasm is clear, several countries oppose this proposal, with the stand-off holding implications for future Antarctic governance. Legally speaking, China argues its proposal for Dome A is to protect the important environmental value of the area. Opponents however believe that an ASMA is essential only when more than one country is conducting activities in the same area, where coordination is required to avoid negative effects for the environment. So far, China is the only country to operate in the Dome A area. Nevertheless, behind polite, diplomatic debates, some alarmist views bluntly reveal that there is a fear China might consolidate its presence in a large area around Dome A.

088 Hidden Under the Ice: Lake Vostok

18 . 02 . 2020

Contributors


Henry Páll Wulff
Expedition Guide, Naturalist
Chris Marquardt
Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Henry Páll Wulff

Expedition Guide, Naturalist

Chris Marquardt

Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Notes

Deep, dark and mysterious, Lake Vostok is one of the largest subglacial lakes in the world. Once a large surface lake in East Antarctica, Lake Vostok is now buried under more than 3.7 kilometers (2.4 miles) of ice near Russia's Vostok research station. Covered with ice for millennia, cut off from light and contact with the atmosphere, Lake Vostok is one of the most extreme environments on Earth. The lake has been ice-covered for at least 15 million years. Lake Vostok is one of the largest lakes on Earth in size and volume, rivaling Lake Ontario in North America. The lake itself is 230 km (143 miles) long, 50 km (31 miles) wide and as much as 800 meters (2,625 feet) deep. Lake Vostok sits near the South Pole in East Antarctica. The presence of a large buried lake was first suggested in the 1960s by a Russian geographer/pilot who noticed the large, smooth patch of ice above the lake from the air. Airborne radar experiments by British and Russian researchers in 1996 confirmed the discovery of the unusual lake. Lake Vostok harbors a unique ecosystem based on chemicals in rocks instead of sunlight, living in isolation for hundreds of thousands of years. The types of organisms the scientists found suggested they derived their energy from minerals present in the lake and sources from the underlying bedrock. Life in Lake Vostok doesn’t just exist — it thrives. Over 3500 different species have been identified, including a whole group of totally novel organisms. Lake Vostok is one of the easiest subglacial lakes to detect due to its size, yet most of its secrets remain.

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