Antarctic Ecosystems: Environmental Contamination, Climate Change, and Human Impact / Edition 1

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The image of Antarctica as a symbol of the last great wilderness and pristine environment has changed considerably in the last two decades. Environmental problems such as the ozone hole and the break-up of ice-shelves have shown that Antarctica is inextricably linked to global processes and exposed to the impact of human activities in the rest of the world. This volume provides an overview of climate change data, its effects on the structure and functioning of Antarctic ecosystems, and the occurrence and cycling of persistent contaminants. It discusses the unique physico-chemical characteristics of the Antarctic environment, ecophysiological adaptations of terrestrial and marine organisms, the transfer of contaminants in pelagic and neritic food chains and the possible consequences for animals at higher trophic levels. The text concludes with possible future scenarios of climate change and atmospheric contamination and the role of Antarctic organisms in the early detection of environmental perturbations.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews:

"... Docent Bargagli (Univ. of Siena, Italy) has undertaken a balanced overview of major environmental issues such as the ozone hole and the breakup of the iceshelves linked to global warming. He admirably counteracts the current tendency toward dramatization. ... The book is beautifully executed with numerous line drawings and photographs and has a very extensive bibliography. Great care has been taken with the English language editing so that the text reads extremely well. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals." (Choice)

"... another valuable book in the Springer Ecological Studies series ..." (Antarctic Science)

"It is a pleasure seeing after Vol. 154 another book about the Antarctic being published in the esteemed monograph series Ecological Studies. ... This book has the advantage of a one-man work, it is homogeneous and has a clear concept. It is written in a fluent style. The sections are well organised and subdivided, and each one finishes with a summary. ... the author is to be congratulated for his wide transdisciplinary view. He has well illustrated the problem whether and to what extent the Antarctic is pristine. ... This valuable ecotoxicological study sets a baseline for future investigations of the Antarctic environment. It is therefore of great interest to scientists and students of various disciplines, environmentalists and nature protectionists." (Polarforschung)

"The volume provides a novel and timely perspective on … Antarctic ecosystems specifically, and the much wider fields of global climatic and biogeochemical processes. … the book will provide an important benchmark reference volume for years to come. … Each chapter is well structured, commencing with a clear introduction and concluding with an equally clear summary, valuable to the general reader. … The real value of these chapters lies in the sheer amount of information that has been collated and distilled … ." (Peter Convey, Journal of Paleolimnology, Vol. 36, 2006)

"A useful overview of the physical geography of the region with emphasis placed on recent changes in climate. … value of this text is that all the pertinent data are collected in one place. In addition, the constant changes between natural and anthropogenic change seen in all chapters leave the reader with no doubt as to the pervasive and potentially damaging impact the human population can have. Given this it makes an ideal reference text to those wishing to study the area in more detail." (TE News, August, 2008)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783540220916
  • Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg
  • Publication date: 11/23/2004
  • Series: Ecological Studies Series , #175
  • Edition description: 2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

Antarctica: Geomorphology and Climate Trends     1
Introduction     1
Physical Characteristics     2
Geology and Mineral Resources     5
Geology     5
Geochemical Anomalies and Mineral Resources     9
The Antarctic Climate and Its Role in the Global Climate System     11
The Antarctic Climate     11
Solar Radiation     14
Temperature     17
Clouds and Precipitation     19
Wind Regime     22
Atmospheric Interactions of Antarctica with Lower Latitudes     24
Global Warming and Climate Variations in Antarctica     26
Climate Variability and Changes Due to Human Activities     26
Trends of Surface Air Temperature in Antarctica     31
Extending Spatio-Temporal Temperature Trends     34
Moisture and Precipitation Trend     36
Summary     40
Glacial, Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecosystems     43
Introduction     43
Glacial Systems     44
Antarctic Ice Sheets     47
Ice Core Records of Climate and Environmental Change     53
Ice Shelves     56
Life in Snow and Ice     58
Ice-Free Areasand Terrestrial Habitats     60
Antarctic Soils     64
Terrestrial Ecosystems     66
Freshwater Ecosystems     70
Antarctic Ecosystems as Indicators of Change     75
Climate-Change Indications     76
Future Research in Antarctic Periglacial Areas     79
Summary     80
The Southern Ocean Environment: Anthropogenic Impact and Climate Change     83
Introduction     83
The Southern Ocean     85
Water Masses and Circulation Patterns     86
Air-Sea Exchanges     89
Sea Ice     91
Antarctic Sea Ice and the Global Climate System     94
Biogeochemical Cycles of C, Fe, S and Other Elements in the Southern Ocean     97
Pelagic Ecosystems     102
Primary Productivity     104
Effects of UV-B on Phytoplankton and Primary Production     106
The Ecological Role of Sea Ice     108
Ice-Edge Processes and Communities     110
Krill and Pelagic Food Webs     112
Benthic and Epibenthic Organisms     116
Antarctic Marine Food Webs and the Impact of Human Activity     120
Summary     122
Persistent Contaminants in the Antarctic Atmosphere     125
Introduction     125
The Atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere     127
Trace Gases     129
The Impact of Biomass Burning     132
Aerosols     133
Volcanic Emissions     137
Persistent Contaminants in the Antarctic Atmosphere     140
The Mercury Cold Trap     142
Trace Elements in Antarctic Aerosol     146
Radionuclides     151
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)     153
Antarctic Scientific Stations as Sources of Atmospheric Contaminants     158
Summary     160
Persistent Contaminants in Snow, Terrestrial Ecosystems and Inland Waters     163
Introduction     163
Atmospheric Contaminant Deposition and Their Incorporation into Ice     164
Dry, Wet and Occult Deposition in Polar Regions     165
Air-Snow Interactions and Post-Depositional Processes     169
Snow and Ice Core Records of Airborne Trace Metals     171
Lead as a Paradigm of Hemispheric-Scale Anthropogenic Impact     172
Natural and Anthropogenic Inputs of Lead to Antarctic Snow     175
Copper, Cadmium and Zinc     178
Mercury and Other Trace Metals      183
Persistent Organic Contaminants     186
Monitoring of Persistent Contaminants Around Scientific Stations Through Snow     189
Contaminants in Antarctic Soils     191
Cryptogamic Organisms as Biomonitors of Atmospheric Contaminants     196
Accumulation of Persistent Contaminants in Antarctic Lichens     196
The Potential Role of Bryophytes as Biomonitors     200
Anthropogenic Impact on Lakes and Streams     203
Summary     206
Contaminants in Antarctic Seawater and Sediments     209
Introduction     209
Trace Elements in Antarctic Marine Waters     211
Element Input from Atmospheric Dust in the Southern Ocean     212
Biogeochemistry of Cobalt, Copper, Nickel and Zinc     216
The "Cadmium Anomaly" in the Southern Ocean     219
Natural and Anthropogenic Sources of Lead     221
A Neglected Element: Mercury     224
Particles Fluxes and the Composition of Surface Sediments     226
Environmental Pollution in Marine Coastal Areas     231
The Impact of Disused Whaling Stations in Peri-Antarctic Islands     232
Accidental Oil Spills     233
The Impact of Coastal Scientific Stations     237
Effects of Local Environmental Pollution on Benthic Communities     242
Summary     246
Persistent Contaminants in Antarctic Marine Food Chains     249
Introduction     249
Trace Elements and POPs in Pelagic Plankton     251
Bioaccumulation of Persistent Contaminants in Euphausia superba (Krill)     255
Transfer of Contaminants in Pelagic Food Chains     259
The (Hyper) Accumulation of Cd and Hg in Pelagic Seabirds     261
POPs and Heavy Metals in Pelagic Marine Mammals     266
Contaminants in Coastal Benthic Organisms     270
Metal Accumulation and Homeostasis in Antarctic Molluscs     273
Antarctic Fish and the Transfer of Contaminants to Higher Vertebrates     276
Contaminants in Birds and Seals Breeding in Antarctica     279
Penguins as Biomonitor Organisms     280
Contaminants in Seals and in a Top Predator Bird: the South Polar Skua     282
Summary     287
Climate Change, Anthropogenic Impact and Environmental Research in Antarctica: a Synthesis and Perspectives     291
Introduction     291
Climate Change and Pathways of Persistent Contaminants     294
Future Trends in Trace Metal Deposition     295
The Unpredictable Pathway and Temporal Trend of POPs      297
The Development of Large-Scale Monitoring Networks     299
Regional Baseline Concentrations of Persistent Contaminants     301
Circumpolar Biomonitoring of Coastal Marine Ecosystems     304
Global Environmental Challenges and the Reduction of Adverse Impacts in Antarctica     307
Science and the Protection of the Antarctic Environment     309
Summary     311
References     315
Geographical Index     379
Subject Index     385
Taxonomic Index     393
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