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Why Does Antarctica Matter?
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The question for the 2015 Young Geographer of the Year competition was ‘Why does Antarctica matter?’

The theme of the 2015 competition coincided with the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, which aimed to complete the first crossing of Antarctica. In support of the competition, we asked a range of experts who work on issues surrounding Antarctica to tell us why Antarctica matters to them…

British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) – a component of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – is an international leader in Antarctic science that is relevant to global problems. BAS is the focal point for UK Antarctic research and operations, managing the NERC-funded Arctic Research Programme alongside operating and managing the UK Research Station at Ny Alesund.

Dr Pranab Deb, Climate Modeller

Professor Jane Francis, Director

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European Polar Board (EPB)

The European Polar Board (EPB) was established by the European Science Foundation as a strategic advisory body on Polar Science. The EPB’s mission is to coordinate European Arctic and Antarctic research, optimise the use of European research infrastructures, foster multilateral collaboration between European national funding agencies, national polar institutes and research organisations and represent polar issues within European research framework programmes.

Renuka Badhe, Executive Secretary

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

The British Antarctic Territory (BAT) is a UK Overseas Territory and is administered by staff in the Polar Regions Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The BAT comprises the sector of the Antarctic south of latitude 60 degrees South, between longitude 20 degrees West and 80 degrees West. The UK’s claim to this part of Antarctica is the oldest of any made on the continent.

Jane Rumble, Head of Polar Regions Department

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International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO)

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) is a member organisation to advocate and promote the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic. IAATO works within the Antarctic Treaty System to promote safe and environmentally responsible travel and has demonstrated that environmentally responsible tourism is possible in remove and fragile wilderness areas.

Kelvin Murray, Polar Expedition Leader

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is the UK’s learned society and professional body for geography. The Society is dedicated to the development and promotion of geographical knowledge, together with its application to the challenges facing society and the environment.

Dr Rita Gardner, Director

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Royal Navy

HMS Protector is the Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship and is deployed on operations for 330 days a year. The ship’s role is to provide a sovereign and reassuring presence in the UK’s largest Overseas Territory – the British Antarctic Territory. She will help deliver the UK’s commitments under the Antarctic Treaty, support science programmes and ensure that expeditions and vessels are meeting their international environmental obligations.

Captain Rory Bryan OBE RN, Commanding Officer, HMS Protector

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United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT)

The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) works to conserve Antarctic buildings and artefacts, and to promote and encourage the public’s interest in its Antarctic heritage. The Trust is active in promoting Antarctic public engagement and supports institutions who have a connection to Antarctic heritage through its collections or through education and outreach.

Camilla Nichol, Chief Executive

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World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is an independent conservation organisation that addresses issues from the survival of species and habitats to climate change, sustainable business and environmental education, creating solutions to the most important environmental challenges facing the planet. WWF is working with its many partners – governments, business and communities – across the Arctic to combat the threats it is facing and preserve the region’s rich biodiversity.

Rod Downie, Polar Programme Manager

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Alastair Fothergill

Alastair Fothergill has worked on a wide range of BBC Natural History programmes. In 1993 he produced Life in the Freezer, a six-part series for BBC1 celebrating the wildlife of the Antarctic, presented by David Attenborough. Since, he has produced series’ including The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Earth and Frozen Planet.


Discovering Antarctica

Discovering Antarctica is an interactive resource website covering topics such as climate change and future pressures in the region. The site is run in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS).


For information about the 2017 Young Geographer of the Year competition and Rex Walford Award please visit www.rgs.org/YGOTY2017

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