Antarctic Research Stations That Didn’t Survive

Maintaining a research station on the world’s coldest, harshest, and most remote continent requires many things: a scientific mandate to give it purpose; a continuous influx and exchange of personnel to prevent isolation-induced burnout; constant structural maintenance and restocking and supplies; and, most importantly, the government support and funding to keep them operating. While the…

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The Line of Largest Settlements

What are the northernmost/southernmost cities in the world? It’s a somewhat ambiguous question whose answers depends on how you define a city versus a town versus a settlement and how minute one wants to get. Alert, Nunavut may be the northernmost permanently occupied settlement, but it hardly qualifies as a city. The same goes for…

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Google Sightseeing: Grytviken

Way back in 2010, The Basement Geographer took a look at the abandoned whaling port of Grytviken on South Georgia, the world’s southernmost territorial capital. Now, thanks to the proliferation of Google Maps users uploading ‘photo spheres‘, we can examine parts of the old whaling station close up using Street View. It was natural to…

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The Aurora Australis

Source: A. Sparrow, http://www.flickr.com/photos/49937157@N03/7574363700/. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. The vast majority of people on Earth (around 88 to 90 percent) live in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, when it comes to natural light displays in the atmosphere, the northern lights or aurora borealis (named after the Greek name for the…

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Google Sightseeing: Dubious Deserts

Over at Google Sightseeing, it’s one of the biggest weeks on the calendar as this week marks the fifth annual Desert Week.  With a nod to our look at the Carcross Desert a few weeks ago, The Basement Geographer’s contribution to this year edition is a tour of a few more of the world’s-deserts-that-aren’t-actually-deserts.  As…

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Who Claims Antarctica?

Antarctica has long been famous for being the only continent in which no government holds power.  While not truly uninhabited thanks to the thousands of personnel present in research stations, the world community generally looks at Antarctica as terra nullius – belonging to no one.  That is not to say, however, that no one claims…

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Deception Island

Hot tubs. Volcanism.  Cruise tourism.  Graffiti. Century-old gravestones.  Not exactly the first things which come to mind when someone says ‘Antarctica’.  But not only can these things be found on the frozen continent, they can be found in one place. Source: Treehill, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deception_Island_Map.svg.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence. Just off the northern tip of the Antarctic…

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The McMurdo Dry Valleys: After All, Antarctica Isn’t Just Ice

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that Antarctica is entirely covered in ice; after all, that statement is true for 98% of the continent. But that still leaves 2% not covered in ice, and many people would be surprised to learn that some of those uncovered areas have flowing rivers and above-ground lakes…

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