During the Cold War, Antarctica was primed for conquest. Here’s how it transformed into an international science laboratory.

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

Antarctica today is a hotbed of scientific activity. Scientists are shooting weather balloons into space, hunting for galactic particles, and flying across the continent to chart our changing climate. But over 60 years ago, Antarctica was a blanket of unknowns, a territory that was a siren song for adventure junkies and pioneering scientists. And in the midst of the Cold War, international peace was forged on the ice.

At one point, Antarctica was primed for conquest , but the international community stepped in to make the continent politically neutral. From 1957-1958, scientists worked side by side. Thanks to friendly competition and collaboration, techniques like radio glaciology, which uses radar to map the ice, became vetted scientific methods. The films taken over the Antarctic were the foundation of a nascent field. At a base-line level, early radio glaciologist were showing that you can look through four kilometers of ice with a radar pulse, and see what the bottom of the continent looks like. 

Trying to predict how the ice sheets gonna behave over the next few decades is challenging, it's one of the big tasks. The hope with this whole collection of data is just to give a window into anywhere where we were lucky enough to have had data collected at that period, to be able to compare how that's changed from then to now. This video, "During the Cold War, Antarctica was primed for conquest. Here’s how it transformed into an international science laboratory. ", first appeared on seeker.com.

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