A History of the Antarctic

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  • Circa 650 – 7th Century Māori navigator Ui-te-Rangiora claimed to have sighted southern ice fields.
  • 1522 – Expedition led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan is first to circumnavigate the Antarctic, discovering the Strait of Magellan (54° S).
  • 1773 – British commander James Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time but although he discovered nearby islands, he did not catch sight of Antarctica itself. It is believed he was as close as 150 miles from the mainland.
  • In 1820, several expeditions claimed to have been the first to have sighted Antarctica, with the very first being the Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The first landing is alleged to have taken pace just over a year later when American Captain John Davis, a sealer, claimed to set foot on the ice on 7 February 1821.
  • 1892-1893 – Carl Anton Larsen led the first Norwegian expedition to Antarctica aboard the ship Jason. Larsen became the first person to ski in Antarctica where the Larsen Ice Shelf was named after him.
  • 1901-1904 – Discovery Expedition – led by Robert Falcon Scott, on 30 December 1903, reached (82° 17′S)
  • 1907-1909 – Nimrod Expedition – On 9 January 1909, Ernest Shackleton reached 88° 23 ′S (Farthest South), and on 16 January 1909, Professor Edgeworth David reached the South Magnetic Pole at (72°25′S 155°16′E) (mean position)
  • 1910-1912 – Roald Amundsen’s South Pole expedition – On 14 December 1911, reached the South Pole (90° S)
  • 1910-1913 – Terra Nova Expedition – On 17 January 1912, Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole (90° S)
  • 1921-1922 – Shackleton-Rowett Expedition – led by Ernest Shackleton – the last expedition of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration
  • 1956 – Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station established
  • 1958 – The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by British explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs completed the first ever crossing of the Antarctic with the aid of a New Zealand team led by mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary which laid supply depots on the second leg of Fuch’s journey. Both teams used motorised transport.
  • 1980-1981 – Transglobe Expedition – led by Ranulph Fiennes – become the first team of explorers to circumnavigate the earth along its polar axis.
  • 2004 – Together to the Pole – a Polish four-man expedition led by Marek Kamiński, with Jan Mela (a teenage double amputee, who in the same year reached also the North Pole)
  • 2011-2012 British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012

Agreements and Treaties

  • 1959 – Antarctic Treaty System
  • 1964 – Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora
  • 1978 – Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals
  • 1982 – Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
  • 1988 – Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities
  • 1998 – Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
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