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Where is Antarctica and how do you get there??

     Look on a map and find the Antarctic continent and the South Pole. People unfamiliar with geography often confuse the Antarctic with the Arctic and the North Pole. However, notice that there is no continent at the North Pole, only ocean. In addition, people often believe that polar bears are found at the South Pole and penguins at the North Pole. This also is false-- penguins{picture}are found only in the Southern Hemisphere and only five of 19 species are found in Antarctica. Other species occur in Australia, Africa, and South America. Polar bears are found only in the Arctic regions of northern Canada and Europe.


Map and routes for Peninsular or continental research

     Once you find Antarctica on the map, note also that there are really two parts to the continent: the western part which includes the Antarctic Peninsula, and the eastern half of the continent. The Peninsula is the closest part of Antarctica to South America. The southern tip of South America includes two countries, Chile and Argentina, and the borders of these two countries cross through a large island, Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire--named so by early explorers who saw all the native people's campfires along the coastline from their ships). At the south side of this island, in Argentina, is a small city, Ushuaia{picture}. This city is a port town for many ships, including fishing vessels, tour ships, and research vessels. In fact, Charles Darwin stopped here on his famous exploration on the Beagle in 1831-1836.


Travel through South America, the Falklands

    My research is being completed in cooperation with the British Antarctic Survey and at their research station (Rothera) in the Antarctic Peninsula.  To get to the research station in the Antarctica Peninsula, we fly from the U. S. first to Santiago{picture}, Chile, a major city in this large South American country. Next, we fly to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Chile and Argentina to Ushuaia{picture}. Here, we meet a tour ship that will take us across to the Falkland Islands, a voyage of about two days. We will see lots of seabirds (petrels, albatross, and penguins) during this voyage, many of which breed on the Falklands. You may wonder why we don't fly to the Falklands from Argentina. The Falklands are under British rule, but the Argentinians have laid claim to these islands for a long time. In the early 1980's, Argentina tried to seize the islands from Britain and started what is now known as the Falklands war. Britain won this war, but relations between the two countries have been sour ever since. So, Argentina does not have airlines flying to and from the Falklands.


Ship and Plane travel, length of journey

   From the Falklands, we fly to the British base Rothera in the Antarctic Peninsula in a Dash-7 aircraft. The flight takes 4-5 hours and may have to return without landing if the weather at the base suddenly changes for the worse. Sudden changes in weather are typical in Antarctica and one must always plan on delays while traveling in this region. Rothera is located in Marguerite Bay approximately half way down the Peninsula. See if you can find this area on a map.

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email David Hughes, djh6183@uncwil.edu
Last updated February 21, 2000