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Reading Resources

Welcome to the 2014 Antarctic Expedition Reading Guide. Below you will find three different sections that will help you familiarize yourself with the incredible continent we are about to visit.

Happy reading!

Antarctica 101 – Introductory Websites and Primers

This section will introduce you to the basics of Antarctica, including the continent’s history, governance, flora and fauna, geology, climatology, geopolitics, tourism and more.


About Antarctica– Check out Antarctic images, sounds, stories and more in this comprehensive introduction to all things Antarctic. Note that the website is curated by the Australian Government and as such the History section focuses on that country’s role in Antarctica. For a more comprehensive history please see the Antarctic Introductory Guide below.

British Antarctic Survey – Polar Science Explained – All you ever needed to know about science and Antarctica…well, maybe not everything…Especially rich is the BAS’ section on Climate Change.


  • Lowen, James. Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide. Princeton University Press, 2011. This is the definitive identification guide to the birds and marine mammals of the Antarctic Peninsula, Drake Passage, and Beagle Channel. We will have copies for you to borrow on board, but you might want to bring your own!
  • Galimberti, Diana. Antarctica: An Introductory Guide.  Zagier & Urruty, 1991. A succinct introduction to Antarctica, this monograph moves though the geography, glaciology, history, biology, climatology and politics of the continent, giving the reader a comprehensive overview of the whole continent. And all in under a 150 pages.
  • McGonigal, David, ed. Antarctica: Secrets of the Southern Continent. Firefly, 2008. A result of the International Polar Year (2007-2008) this compilation features up-to-date material from an expert team of scientists, expeditioners and historians. Included are more than 600 photographs, illustrations and maps.
  • Walker, Gabrielle. An Intimate Portrait of the World’s Most Mysterious Continent. Bloomsbury, 2012. Capturing everything from science, natural history, poetry and history and attempting to dissect what it is about the continent that captivates so many people, this book is one of the most comprehensive introduction to the continent to date.

Antarctica 201 – Journal Articles and Primary Sources

This section features more specialized readings on specific topics such the Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Paleoclimatology, Tourism and Human Health.

Journal Articles

  • Berger, W.H. “Cenozoic Cooling, Antarctic Nutrient Pump and the Evolution of Whales.” Deep-Sea Research II 54 (2007) 2399–2421. This article examines the evolution of whales in an Antarctic context and argues that the process known as silicate-supported upwelling and deep mixing through the Circumpolar Current within the Southern Ocean are the crucial ingredients that set the stage for the evolution of whales.
  • Bindoff, Allison, et al. “The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science.”  The University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre (2009). This report synthesizes the most policy-relevant climate science in a form accessible to a wide audience. Each section begins with a set of key points that summarises the main findings. The science contained in the report is based on the most credible and significant peer-reviewed literature available at the time of publication.
  • Doney, Scott, et al. “Climate Change Impacts on Marine Ecosystems.” Annual Review of Marine Science 4 (2012) 11-37. This article looks at climate change impacts on all levels of marine ecosystems. Special attention is paid to the poles due the sensitivity of polar ecosystems to sea-ice and species migration. Current physical and chemical changes are examined and hypotheses regarding future climate impacts are presented.
  • Francis, J.E., et al. “100 Million Years of Antarctic Climate Evolution: Evidence from Fossil Plants.” Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World. Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press (2008). This article examines the evolution of the Antarctic climate from Cretaceous greenhouse into the Neogene icehouse that we see today through the rich record of fossil leaves, wood, pollen, and flowers from the Antarctic Peninsula and the Transantarctic Mountains.
  • Howkins, Adrian, “Melting Empires? Climate Change and Politics in Antarctica since the International Geophysical Year.” Osiris 26.1 (2011): 180-197. Written by a historian, this article examines the relationship between climate change and politics in Antarctic since the 1950s and argues that the threat of climate change has reinforced the privileged political position of the ‘insider’ nations within the Antarctic Treaty System.
  • Liggett, Daniela, et al. “From Frozen Continent to Tourism Hotspot? Five Decades of Antarctic Tourism Development and Management and a Glimpse into the Future.” Tourism Management 32 (2011) 357-366. Representing the main commercial activity on the Antarctic continent, the value of Antarctic tourism is increasingly debated. This article assesses Antarctic tourism over the last five decades from the viewpoints of current tourism stakeholders and finds that increased regulations are imperative.
  • Rockstrom, Johan, “A Safe Operating Space for Humans: Identifying and Quantifying Planetary Boundaries that must not be Transgressed could Help Prevent Human Activities from Causing Unacceptable Environmental Change.” Nature 461 (2009) 472-475. Based on the potential for human activities to push the Earth system outside its current stable environmental state, this articles proposes planetary boundaries to mitigate drastic environmental change and define a safe operating space for humanity.
  • Scott, Karen. “Institutional Developments within the Antarctic Treaty System.” International and Comparative Law Quarterly 52.2 (2003) 473-487. This article examines the 2001 creation of a Permanent Secretariat to the Antarctic Treaty from the perspective of international law and considers its potential to preserve and protect the Antarctic environment.  It also provides a thorough synthesis of the evolution of the Treaty since its inception in 1959.

Primary Sources

The Antarctic Treaty,” Conference on Antarctica (December 1, 1959).

A copy of the Antarctic Treaty that was signed in Washington on 1 December, 1959 by the twelve countries whose scientists had been active in and around the continent during the International Geophysical Year, 1957-58. Those countries include: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, Norway, the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Treaty designated that Antarctica be used solely for peaceful purposes and scientific discovery. The Treaty was entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded to by many other nations. The total number of Parties to the Treaty is now 50.

Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty” Antarctic Treaty System (January 14, 1998).

A copy of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty that was signed in Madrid on 4 October, 1991. It designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”. The Environment Protocol also prohibits all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except for scientific research. Until 2048 the Protocol can only be modified by unanimous agreement of all Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty. In addition, the prohibition on mineral resource activities cannot be removed unless a binding legal regime on Antarctic mineral resource activities is in force. The Protocol entered into force in 1998.

Antarctica 301 – Selected Bibliography

For the armchair adventurer, this section is a selected bibliography of primary and secondary sources that focus on the exploration of the continent. These tittles can be found/ordered through your public or school libraries.

Secondary Sources

  • Baugham, T.H. Pilgrims on the Ice: Robert Falcon Scott’s First Antarctic Expedition. University of Nebraska Press, 1999. Focusing on Scott’s lesser-known 1901-4 expedition, Historian T.H. Baugham examines Scott through the lens of the expedition and considers his competing reputations: One as a martyred hero and the other as an inept fool.
  • Day, David. Antarctica: A Biography. Oxford University Press, 2013. Unparalleled in scope, Historian David Day’s biography of Antarctica covers every detail of the continent’s vast history. Over 600 pages in length, the monograph begins with the earliest attempts to prove the continent’s existence all the way through to the present day geopolitics of the region.
  • Brandt, Anthony. South Pole: A Narrative History of the Exploration of Antarctica. National Geographic, 2004. Drawing on the archives of the National Geographic Society, this compilation tells the story of the discovery and exploration of Antarctica, through the memoirs, letters, ship’s logs and diary entries of those who were there.  Editor Anthony Brandt provides introductory information to each entry, seamlessly connecting the narrative together.
  • Campbell, David. The Crystal Desert: Summers in Antarctica. Mariner Books, 2002. Based on the three austral summers Campbell spent in Antarctica during the 1980’s, this monograph is a comprehensive introduction to the natural and social history of the continent. From parasites to whales and explorers to scientist, Campbell paints a vivid picture of the continent and those that inhabit it.
  • Griffiths, Tom. Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica. Harvard University Press, 2007. Written as an account of his journey to Antarctica in 2002, Environmental Historian Tom Griffiths interweaves his personal experience with the history of human experience on the continent.
  • Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, 2nd ed. Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1999. Written in 1959, the classic tale of Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition is based on diary and first-person accounts of the voyage.
  • Pyne, Stephen J. The Ice: A Journey to Antarctica, 2nd ed. University of Washington Press, 1998. Environmental Historian Stephen Pyne explores the geophysical world of Antarctica in this monograph, interweaving physical science with the history of human attempts to explore and understand the continent.
  • Spufford, Francis, ed. The Antarctic: An Anthology. Grant Books, 1998. This anthology features some of the best first-person accounts of exploration, along with literary travelogues, cultural history, natural history and fiction.

Primary Sources

  • Amundsen, Roald. The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the “Fram,” 1910-1912. John Murray, 1912. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s first-hand account of the race to the South Pole and his party’s ultimate success as the first people to ever reach the South Pole.
  • Cherry-Garrard, Apsley. The Worst Journey in the World. Carroll &Graf, 1922. A survivor of Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition, Cherry-Garrard chronicles the doomed expedition in what is referred to as one of the greatest adventure stories of all time.
  • Scott, Robert F. The Voyage of the Discovery. 2 vols. Macmillan: London, 1905. British explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s account of his first Antarctic Expedition which laid the groundwork for his more famous, and ultimately doomed, second expedition.
  • Shackleton, Ernest. South: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition, 1914-1917. Century Publishing: London, 1983. This first-hand account chronicles British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to traverse the Antarctic continent via the South Pole in the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-17. While his bid was ultimately unsuccessful, his incredible leadership qualities continue to be lauded to this day.

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