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ASPA 175: High Altitude Geothermal sites of the Ross Sea region
Proponent: United States
Location: 77° 31'  167° 06'
Approx. Area: 0.265 km2
Summary: There exist a few isolated sites in Antarctica where the ground surface is warmed by geothermal activity above the ambient air temperature. These sites are rare and small in extent covering no more than a few hectares on the Antarctic continent and circumpolar islands (or maritime sites). The biological communities that occur at continental geothermal sites are at high altitude and differ markedly to those communities that occur at maritime geothermal sites due to the differences in the abiotic environment. There are three high altitude geothermal sites in the Ross Sea region, known to have unique biological communities. These are the summits of Mount Erebus, on Ross Island, and Mount Melbourne and Mount Rittmann, both in northern Victoria Land. High altitude geothermal sites are vulnerable to the introduction of new species, particularly from human vectors, as they present an environment where organisms typical of more temperate regions can survive. These once isolated sites are now more frequently visited by humans for science and recreation, both of which require logistical support. Species from sites within Antarctica, and locally non-native to geothermal sites, or from regions away from Antarctica, may inadvertently be introduced to the Area through human activity. High altitude geothermal sites are also vulnerable to physical damage to the substrate from trampling and over sampling because changes in the soil structure can affect the location and rate of steam emissions in which biological communities occur. The limited extent and fragility of these biological communities highlights the need for protection.
Designation: M 13 (2014)
Last Review: 2019
Current Plan: M 13 (2014)
Next Review: 2024
Annex V format adoption: 2014
Modification / Review summary: Designated in Measure 13 (2014). This Management Plan was presented to the CEP in 2019 and it was agreed that the current plan should remain in force.
Primary reason for designation: C - areas with important or unusual assemblages of species, including major colonies of breeding native birds or mammals;
Main Environmental Domain represented: U - North Victoria Land geologic (also includes Executive Committee Range, Prince Charles & Jones mountains)


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