Many many years ago my first husband and I were in Cape Town in December. It was really hot and we were sweatily eating ice cream at the harbour when he stopped in his tracks. He turned to me and said ‘what on earth is an icebreaker doing in Africa?’ He was looking at the SA Agulhas (later replaced by SA Agulhas II), an icebreaker which serviced the South African Antarctic research bases.
Antarctica is very interesting. Whereas the Arctic is water surrounded by land, the Antarctic is land surrounded by water. It is a polar desert and uninhabitable, apart from the researchers who stay for the summer, or overwinter. Antarctica accounts for 90% of the Earth’s ice, and 70% of its fresh water. The South Pole is also way colder than the North Pole.
There is an Antarctic Treaty, signed by 54 nations, guaranteeing peace, scientific research and cooperation, and that the results of the research be freely available. Unlike the Arctic, there is no future sea route or resources to be fought over when the ice melts.
The strangest thing of all – to me anyway – is that – since 1952 – there has been a huge statue of Lenin in Antarctica. (Read more here)