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Call for International Research Stations in Antarctica

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To ensure true scientific cooperation in only continent devoted uniquely to peace and science, as stipulated by Article III of the Antarctic Treaty, we need to commit to international stations in the Antarctic.

The International Geophysical Year ( 1957-1958 ) was a hugely successful scientific endeavour which demonstrated that nations could cooperate in the Antarctic. The IGY ultimately lead to formation of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959. · Emil Schulthess
The opportunities for conducting scientific research and exploration from Antarctica, are second to none and provide opportunities for new discoveries and paradigm-shifting breakthroughs. · Shaun O' Boyle
Established in December 1955 and grown informally over time, the American McMurdo is the largest Antarctic station with more than 200 structures. · Shaun O' Boyle

At present, only 1 out of 76 stations on the continent is shared. The proliferation of stations, often built in proximity to one another to conduct similar scientific research, still reflects a geopolitical strategy to overtly assert territorial claims, ultimately hindering the scientific potential of Antarctic programs. Upon analysis of all existing stations, data proves that solely 13.5% of the total surface area of the stations is in fact devoted to scientific laboratories and only 1 out of 9 of the persons working in the continent is a scientist. These parameters could change drastically, in favor of science, if the stations were international.

The transient population of the Antarctic fluctuates from above over 4,000 scientists and supporting staff during the summer months, to approximately 1,000 during the austral winter.

The implementation of international stations would not only enhance the scientific collaboration on the continent and free-up more national funding that could be allocated purely to science (rather than being invested in operational costs), but it would also lessen our contaminating footprint on the continent, which at present covers a surface of approximately 400,000 sqm. 

Considering the short life-span of all buildings erected in the Antarctic and the constant need to upgrade and replace Antarctic infrastructure, should the call for international station be endorsed by the decision-making representatives of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), shared infrastructure could replace obsolete national stations and be imposed to all parties requesting permission to construct a new station on what is unquestionably a Global Commons.

“While we attempt to optimise extreme inhabitation strategies, Antarctica rejects and literally ejects the structures we build on its ice. The relentless movement of glaciers towards the ocean as they calve, carries with them all the captive evidence of humanity in the form of polluted frozen air bubbles and buildings.”

- Giulia Foscari / Unless

Copyright A. Alsopp, 1995. Reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. Archives ref. AD6/19/4/1/X/AA31

Your voice matters. Add your name to the petition urging leaders from ATCM member countries to act now and commit to international research stations in Antarctica. We will deliver your signatures to them, which will show the outpour of public support for action to protect Antarctica.

You can also join us in the campaign to #SpeakUpForAntarcticaNow by sharing this critical effort on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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