South Orkney Islands
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The South Orkney Islands are a group of islands in
the Southern Ocean.
The Orkneys have been part of the British Antarctic Territory
since 1962, and prior to this the islands were a Falkland
Under the Antarctic Treaty 1959 however, the Islands' sovereignty
s neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are
free for use by any signatory for non-military use.
Therefore, there is an overlap of jurisdiction, since the islands
are also part of Argentina's province of Tierra del Fuego.
The Argentine Navy has maintained a permanent base there since
The South Orkney Islands were discovered in 1821 by two sealers,
Nathaniel Brown Palmer and George Powell.
The Islands were originally named Powell's Group, with the main
island named Coronation island as it was the year of the
coronation of King George IV.
In 1823, James Weddell visited the Islands, gave the archipelago
its present name (after the Orkney Islands, Scotland) and also
renamed some of the islands.
Interestingly, the South Orkney Islands are located at roughly
the same latitude south as the Orkney Islands are north (60°S
vs 59°N), although it is not known if this was a factor behind
the naming of the islands.
Subsequently, the Islands were frequently visited by sealers and
whalers, but no thorough survey was ever done until the expedition
of William Speirs Bruce on the Scotia in 1903, which overwintered
at Laurie Island.
Bruce surveyed the islands, reverted some of Weddell's name changes,
and established a meteorological station, which was sold to the
Argentinian Government upon his departure in 1904.
This base, renamed Orcadas in 1951, is still in operation today and
is thus the oldest research station continuously staffed
in the Antarctic.
In 1908, the United Kingdom declared sovereignty over all Antarctic
and South American territories south of their colony in the 50°
parallel, including the South Orkney Islands.
The Islands were then regarded to be part of the Falkland Islands
A biological research station on Signy Island was
built in 1947 by the British Antarctic Survey.
Geography and climate
The Islands are situated at latitudes about 60°30' to 60°83' S,
and longitudes 44°25' to 46°25' W in the Southern Ocean.
As a group of islands, the South Orkney Islands are located
at approximately 60°35'S 045°30'W / 60.583°S 45.5°W / -60.583;
Coordinates: 60°35'S - 045°30'W / 60.583°S 45.5°W /
The archipelago comprises four main islands.
Coronation Island is the largest island; its highest point is
Mount Nivea and rises to 1266 m above sea level.
Laurie Island is the easternmost of the islands.
The other islands are the smaller Powell Island, Signy Island
and Robertson Island, as well as a few tiny ones named
In total, these island have a surface of about 620 km²,
most of which is covered with ice.
The Inaccessible Islands about 15 nm to the west are also
considered part of the South Orkneys.
The climate of the South Orkneys is generally cold, wet,
Summers are short and cold (December to March) when the
average temperatures reach about 2°C and fall to about
-10°C in winter (i.e., in July).
The extrema reach about 12°C and -44°C, respectively.
The seas around the islands are ice-covered from late
April to November.
The two claimant nations maintain research stations
on the Islands.
Argentina Orcadas Base (since 1904 - bought as a meteorological
station from the UK in 1904).
United Kingdom Signy Island (since 1947).
For more information about
South_Orkney_Islands see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This page was retrieved and condensed from
see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, April 2009.
All text is available under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
This information was correct in April 2009. E. & O.E.
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