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Antarctic Peninsula

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Antarctica History and Facts in Brief

Antarctic Peninsula
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of the mainland of Antarctica.
It extends from a line between Cape Adams (Weddell Sea) and a point on the mainland south of Eklund Islands.

The Antarctic Peninsula is important because research has revealed that the forces of climate change are having a great effect on the region.
The remote polar position has resulted in the area being dotted with numerous research stations and multiple claims of sovereignty.
The peninsula forms part of disputed and overlapping claims by Argentina, Britain and Chile.
None of these claims have international recognition and the respective countries do not currently actively pursue enforcement.

Discovery and naming
The first sighting of Antarctic Peninsula is contested but apparently occurred in 1823.
Agreement on this name by the US-ACAN and UK-APC in 1964 resolved a long-standing difference over the use of the American name "Palmer Peninsula" or the British name "Graham Land" for this feature.
(Graham Land is now that part of the Antarctic Peninsula northward of a line between Cape Jeremy and Cape Agassiz, whilst Palmer Land is the part southward of that line.
Palmer Land is named for the American seal hunter, Nathaniel Palmer.)
In Chile, the peninsula is officially referred as O'Higgins Land, after the Chilean patriot and Antarctic visionary.
Other Spanish countries call it "Peninsula Antártica", among them Argentina (while also calling it "Tierra de San Martin"), which has more bases and personnel there than any other nation.

Other portions of the peninsula that were named upon discovery include Bowman Coast, Black Coast, Danco Coast, Davis Coast, English Coast, Fallieres Coast, Loubet Land, Nordenskjold Coast and the Wilkins Coast.

Argentina's Esperanza Base was the birthplace of Emilio Marcos Palma, the first person to be born in Antarctica.

The dinosaur species Antarctopelta was the first dinosaur fossil to be found on the continent, in January 1986 on James Ross Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula.

The grounding of the Argentine ship Bahia Paraiso and subsequent 170,000 gallon oil spill occurred near the Antarctic Peninsula in 1989.

The peninsula is highly mountainous, its highest peaks rising to approximately 2,800 metres (9,186 ft).
Notable peaks on the peninsula include Mount Castro, Mount Coman, Mount Gilbert, Mount Jackson, Mount William, Mount Owen and Mount Scott.
These mountains are considered to be a continuation of the Andes of South America, with a submarine spine connecting the two.
That is an argument advanced by Chile and Argentina for their territorial claims.

The landscape of the peninsula is typical Antarctic tundra.
The peninsula has a sharp elevation gradient, with glaciers flowing into the Larsen Ice Shelf, which experienced significant breakup in 2002.
Other ice shelves on the peninsular include George VI Ice Shelf, Wilkins Ice Shelf, Wordie Ice Shelf and the Bach Ice Shelf.
The Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf lies to the east of the peninsula.

Separating the peninsula from nearby islands is the Antarctic Sound, Erebus and Terror Gulf, George VI Sound, Gerlache Strait and the Lemaire Channel.
Further to the west lies the Bellingshausen Sea and in the north is the Scotia Sea.
The Antarctic Peninsula and Cape Horn create a funneling effect, which channels the winds into the relatively narrow Drake Passage.
Hope Bay, at 63°23'S 057°00'W/63.383°S 57°W/-63.383; -57, is near to the northernmost extremity of the peninsula, which is Prime Head, at 63°13'S.

Climate change
The Antarctic Peninsula is a part of the world that is experiencing extraordinary warming.
Each decade for the last five, average temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have risen by half a degree Celsius.
Ice mass loss on the peninsula occurred at a rate of 60 billion tonnes in 2006, with the greatest change occurring in the northern tip of the peninsula.[6] Seven ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated or disintegrated in the last two decades.
According to a study by the British Antarctic Survey, glaciers on the peninsula are not only retreating but also increasing their flow rate as a result of increased buoyancy in the lower parts of the glaciers.
Professor David Vaughan has described the disintegration of the Wilkins Ice Shelf as the latest evidence of rapid warming in the area.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been unable to determine the greatest potential effect on sea level rise that glaciers in the region may cause.

Research stations
Since the peninsula has the mildest climate in Antarctica, the highest concentration of research stations on the continent can be found there, or on the many nearby islands, and is the part of Antarctica most often visited by tour vessels and yachts.
Occupied bases include Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme, Bellingshausen Station, Comandante Ferraz Brazilian Antarctic Base, Rothera Research Station and San Martin Base.
Today, on the Antarctic Peninsula there are many abandoned scientific and military bases.
Ice core and sediment samples from the peninsula are valuable because events such as the Little Ice Age can be verified with samples from other continents.

Flora and fauna
Antarctica's two flowering plant species, the Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) and Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) are found on the northern and western parts of the Antarctic Peninsula.

For more information about Antarctic Peninsula see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Peninsula) see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, May 2009.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).
About Wikipedia

This information was correct in May 2009. E. & O.E.

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