RESOURCES: Science at the Bottom of the World

Science  15 Dec 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5499, pp. 2027
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5499.2027a

While northerners hunker down for a predicted harsh winter, in Antarctica it's already as toasty as 0°C and the beginning of the field season. The icy continent is a booming place for science on everything from meteorites to Weddell seals, calving icebergs, and microbes that thrive in the hostile Dry Valleys.

No single Web site tracks all this research by at least 18 countries, but one place to get a quick overview is the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. Its site briefly describes research projects ranging from glaciology to seals and offers a few factoids (maximum ice thickness: 4776 meters; number of research stations: 44). For more technical info, check out the U.S. Antarctic Resource Center, where you can see all kinds of maps—zoom in on the nearly water-free Dry Valleys, for example. If it's general information you're after, check out the British Antarctic Survey's recently spiffed-up site. It includes updates on topics such as the ozone hole (which reached record size in September) as well as diaries: For example, a doctor who overwintered this year at Halley station describes auroras, emperor penguins, a camping trip to a crevasse, and the last sunset (in October) before 24-hour daylight.

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