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Governance of the exploration of subglacial Antarctica

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Title: Governance of the exploration of subglacial Antarctica
Authors: Siegert, MJ
Kennicutt, MC
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Subglacial lakes, and their surrounding aqueous environments, are known to be viable yet extreme habitats for microbial life that may hold records of climate change spanning hundreds of thousands of years. Since the detection of Lake Vostok in 1996 plans have been developed to access, sample, and monitor these unique environments. Critical to these plans is assurance that contamination and disturbance is minimized in all aspects of the activity. Precisely how this is achieved has been a matter of international debate for many years culminating in the formulation of a “Code of Conduct” to guide responsible scientific exploration and stewardship of these pristine systems by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic research. The Code of Conduct was first introduced to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in 2011, influencing planning for three exploration programs. In May 2018, following several recent and operational advances, Antarctic Treaty Parties agreed to its use and dissemination, ensuring that subglacial lakes exploration and access is undertaken in a responsible, defensible, and fact-based manner. As our knowledge of subglacial lakes improves, so too will our appreciation of their scientific value and potential vulnerability. In other regions of Antarctica where value and vulnerabilities are high, Antarctic Specially Protected Areas and Antarctic Specially Managed Areas ensure long-term protection whilst allowing scientific access and study. Such governance models will be applicable to the conservation and protection of subglacial lake systems as scientific understanding of their form and functioning advances.
Issue Date: 12-Sep-2018
Date of Acceptance: 24-Aug-2018
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/63886
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2018.00103
ISSN: 2296-665X
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Journal / Book Title: Frontiers in Environmental Science
Volume: 6
Copyright Statement: © 2018 Siegert and Kennicutt. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Sponsor/Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
British Council (UK)
Funder's Grant Number: NE/G00465X/3
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: ARTN 103
Appears in Collections:Centre for Environmental Policy
Faculty of Natural Sciences