Antarctic science preserve polluted


  • Lynn Teo Simarski


Geophysicists are alarmed at the electromagnetic pollution of a research site in the Antarctic specifically set aside to study the ionosphere and magnetosphere. A private New Zealand communications company called Telecom recently constructed a satellite ground station within the boundaries of this Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), protected since the mid-1970s. The placement of a commercial facility within this site sets an ominous precedent not only for the sanctity of other SSSIs, but also for Specially Protected Areas—preserves not even open to scientific research, such as certain penguin rookeries.

The roughly rectangular, one-by-one-half mile site, located at Arrival Heights not far from McMurdo Station, is one of a number of areas protected under the Antarctic treaty for designated scientific activities. Many sites are set aside for geological or biological research, but this is the only one specifically for physical science.