Antarctica is uninhabited, remote and has among the harshest terrains and climates in the world. Yet, why do scientists from across the globe brave the elements to study the region? Because it is the world’s most important natural laboratory, and has a very significant role in helping us understand how the world works. Under its several-km thick ice sheets is the report card of the planet’s climate over the last one million years. This southern-most continent helps us understand global climate change, has a telling effect on the planet’s ocean systems and most importantly, it is an indicator of the overall health of the planet. Although the Antarctic ice may not melt completely any time soon, the alarming rate at which it is melting has raised grave concerns globally on potential sea-level rise across the world.

Under the Antarctic Treaty (signed in 1959 and implemented in 1961), the region has been declared a special conservation area, and several human activities carried out earlier have now been prohibited, in a serious effort to conserve the natural balance of the unique environment.

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