Berlin: The South Pole is turning into a waste dump, with leftovers from experimental set-ups slowly decomposing. Mounds of rubbish, discarded oil cans, car batteries and some dangerous chemicals litter the South Pole, according to a report.
"We have a genuine waste problem in the Antarctic," says Hans-Ulrich Peter of the University Jena, Germany, who co-wrote the report.
Scientists are most concerned about King George Island, about 120 km off the Antarctic. It is there, more precisely on the Fildes Peninsula, where the ecologist has been doing research on a regular basis since 1983 and meticulously documented the changes in the environment.
"The Fildes Peninsula is one of the largest ice-free areas of the Antarctic with a relatively high degree of biodiversity," Peter says.
University Jena ecologists noticed that during the last 30 years, not only can global climate change be gravely felt in the Antarctic, natural life is equally threatened by the influence of human beings on the local environment of the south polar region, according to a Jena statement.
"Due to the extreme climatic conditions, the sensitive vegetation only recovers very slowly," Christina Braun, member of Peter's team, says.
She has visited King George Island seven times already for research purposes.
"Vehicle tracks sometimes remain there for decades," she explained, adding that the vegetation is not only damaged by vehicles and building work.
According to Braun, the unique flora of the Antarctic is equally threatened by 'imported' plants. "Some years ago, we found some non-native plants near the Russian research station Bellingshausen."
Insects and other animal and plant species inadvertently imported by participants of expedition present dangers for the ecosystem.
First Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013, 13:20