The writer visited Antarctica, the coldest, driest and windiest continent in the world, aboard the Russian research vessel, Akademik Shokalskiy.
The journey, beginning at Chennai, passed through many areas, geographical, legal, ecological and temporal.
The writer’s first reaction to the continent was of relief, followed by wonder at its vastness, seclusion and geological history.
Part of History
Before human evolution, Antarctica was part of a huge tropical landmass called the Gondwana land, which flourished 500 million years ago.
Biological (flora and fauna), geological (changing continents) and geographical (climatic)changes occurred and Antarctica separated and moved away evolving into what it is today.
A visit to Antarctica gave the writer a deeper understanding of fold mountains, the earth’s history, ecology and environment.
The writer felt unsettled in two weeks time not only because she came from a much hotter place, but also because all features of human civilization were absent from an already desolate landscape.
The long summers, the silence broken occasionally by cracking ice sheets and avalanches, the blue whales and ice bergs, all contribute to an ecological implication that the future for humans isn’t good.
Humans, who are known to have existed for a mere 12000 years, have caused tremendous impact and played havoc with nature.
Population explosion, putting a strain on available resources, carbon emissions, fossil fuels and global warming have all resulted in climatic and ecological imbalances that have also affected Antarctica.
Antarctica, though unpopulated, has been affected and there are concerns for its half a million year old carbon records trapped under its ice sheets.
The ‘Students on Ice’ programme, an initiative of Canadian adventure educator, Geoff Green takes students on expeditions to Antarctica, to create awareness in them, the future policy makers.
The stark proof of global warming and environmental threats helps students attain an understanding of ecosystems and biodiversity of our planet.
An amazing display of the food chain of the Southern Ocean helps in the understanding that further depletion of the ozone layer, will set off a chain reaction that will affect the global carbon cycle.
The simple truth is, take care of the small things and the bigger ones will automatically be taken care of.
Walk on The Ocean
Before their return, the writer got an opportunity to walk on the ocean at 65.55 degrees south, which made her realize that she was walking on 180 meters of ocean water, a rich kaleidoscope of life.
Reaching home, she wondered whether Antarctica would ever be warm again, how much difference a million years can make and, that each day makes a difference.