Monitoring projects in the Antarctic

Regular environmental monitoring records whether and how Antarctica is changing as result of human influence Click to enlarge
Regular environmental monitoring records whether and how Antarctica is changing as result of human..
Source: Fritz Hertel/UBA

The Federal Environment Agency evaluates the potential environmental impact of human activities in the Antarctic. These activities include research projects, art projects, touristic sailing trips or journalists' travel. Environmental monitoring is a key tool for assessment of the possible effects of these various activities.

It is the responsibility of the Federal Environment Agency to evaluate the potential environmental impact of scientific, touristic and other activities. It may only permit a planned activity if the activity entails no risk of causing detrimental changes in the distribution, abundance or productivity of animal and plant species and their populations or of further jeopardy to threatened or endangered species and their populations. This task requires a good knowledge base about the species concerned and their requirements of the ecosystem.
Observing changes in the environment is an important prerequisite for protection of nature and the environment. This observation, or environmental monitoring, is a means of systematically recording whether and how the environment is changing, both naturally and due to human activity, at regular intervals.

In a best-case scenario, the documentation of potential impacts of an activity is preceded by recording conditions as they are prior to the activity itself. The same approach is applied to the documentation of conditions after an activity so that possible changes caused by such activities can be recorded with precision.

Such comprehensive monitoring is not possible in the Antarctic. However, UBA is supporting a number of monitoring projects to expand the database on the Antarctic and to be able to record impacts on larger regions in the future. More detailed information is available on the pages below, for example:

  • Whale monitoring in the Antarctic
  • Environmental monitoring on King George Island
  •  Satellite-based penguin monitoring