The Antarctic Treaty

After seven days of Covid-hygiene regulations, self-testing, and social distancing, our ship’s doctor finally declared us Covid free! A sigh of relief went through the ship’s crew and scientific party as we could leave our masks, and have social gatherings again. Just in time to celebrate New Year’s eve, a welcome event after the cancellation of our Christmas celebrations. The loosening of our Covid-regulations also enables us to organize group meetings, an essential part of our expedition’s organization. The kick-starter was the “Antarctic Environmental Protection” workshop, led by our Chief Scientist, professor Karsten Gohl. During this seminar, all Antarctic newcomers onboard got taught about the basic principles of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in 1959. This treaty declares that the Antarctic territory, i.e., all the land and oceans south of 60°S, is a place of peace, international cooperation, and scientific research. The day ended with our first “General Scientific Meeting” at 7.30pm, where the weather and plan of the coming days was discussed. Due to the westerly storms of the past days, we had to slow down and deviate from our initial itinerary. Therefore, our arrival at Neumayer Station III is delayed by a couple of days. Soon we will reach the Screaming Sixties, the only latitude where winds can blow around our planet without hitting any land, creating agonizing storms. Fingers crossed we do not meet such a storm on our path.

Antarctic Treaty area, all the land and oceans south of 60°S.
View from inside the RV Polarstern’s bridge during one of the westerly storms of the last days.

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