Transport in Antarctica

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Transport in Antarctica has transformed from explorers crossing the isolated remote area of Antarctica by foot to a more open area due to human technologies enabling more convenient and faster transport, predominantly by air and water, as well as land. Transportation technologies on a remote area like Antarctica need to be able to deal with extremely low temperatures and continuous winds to ensure the travelers' safety. Due to the fragility of the Antarctic environment, only a limited amount of transport movements can take place and sustainable transportation technologies have to be used to reduce the ecological footprint. The infrastructure of land, water and air transport needs to be safe and sustainable. Currently thousands of tourists and hundreds of scientists a year rely on the Antarctic transportation system.

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Land transport

Land transport in Antarctica is usually by foot (skis, snowshoes) or vehicles (tracked vehicles like snow mobiles and bulldozers and in the past dog sleds). Shackleton's 1907-09 Nimrod Expedition pioneered motorised traction.

Mawson station started using classic Volkswagen Beetles, the first production cars to be used in Antarctica. The first of these was named 'Antarctica 1'. However, the scarcity and poor quality of road infrastructure limits land transportation by conventional vehicles. Winds continuously blow snow on the roads. The McMurdo-South Pole highway is a 900-mile (1450 km) road in Antarctica linking the United States McMurdo Station on the coast to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

In 2005 a team of six people took part in the Ice Challenger Expedition. Travelling in a specially designed six wheel drive vehicle, the team completed the journey from the Antarctic coast at Patriot Hills to the geographic South Pole in an incredible 69 hours. In doing so they easily beat the previous record of 24 days. They arrived at the South Pole on the 12th of December 2005.[1] The team members on that expedition were Andrew Regan, Jason De Carteret, Andrew Moon, Richard Griffiths, Gunnar Egilsson and Andrew Miles. The expedition successfully showed that wheeled transport on the continent is not only possible but also often more practical. The expedition also hoped to raise awareness about global warming and climate change.

A second expedition lead by Andrew Regan and Andrew Moon is planned to depart in 2009. The Moon-Regan Trans Antarctic Expedition will this time traverse the entire continent, using 2 six wheel drive vehicles and a Concept Ice Vehicle designed by Lotus.[2] This time the team intends to use the expedition to raise awareness about the global environmental importance of the Antarctic region and to show that biofuel can be a viable and environmentally friendly option.

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