Environment: Trip to the Bottom of the World

"Great God! This is an awful place. " So wrote the English explorer Robert Falcon Scott after he reached the South Pole in 1912. Scott, who was just beaten to the pole by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, had good reason to complain. Temperatures regularly drop to -100º F. during the polar winter. Sudden storms bring gale-force winds, and visibility frequently drops to zero during a "whiteout," making it impossible to see perilous crevasses ahead. Yet in spite of its hostile environment, Antarctica is becoming the object of increasing worldwide interest. Its shrimplike krill...

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