Antarctica: More than just penguins

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Repres - Antarctic

The South Island may be know around these parts as ‘the mainland’, but the 1000 scientists descending on Auckland last week had their sights set on even higher latitudes: Antarctica. New Zealand hosted the biennial Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) conference from August 25-28, attracting glaciologists, biologists, geologists and astrophysicists from all around the globe. Their talks had titles that mentioned sub-glacial lakes, penguin guano, and ‘alien invasions’, but all had the frozen continent in common.

Often depicted as an icy wasteland, Antarctica is in fact a treasure trove of information about the past of our planet. Uncovering that knowledge via fossil records, ice cores and microbiology can help scientists to understand the world we live in, and to predict what will happen far into the future.

While Antarctica’s very low precipitation rate means it is technically a desert, the kilometres of ice that coat the continent hide a…

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