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South Orkney Islands

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 Islands Dependency.
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 1904.

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 Dependency.
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 45.5W / -60.583; -45.5
Coordinates: 60°35'S - 04530'W / 60.583°S 45.5W / -60.583; -45.5.

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 Saddle Islands.
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, and windy.
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.

Research stations
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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Orkney_Islands) see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, April 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 April 2009. E. & O.E.

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