Today, Antarctica is considered the largest protected area in the world. But people are actively developing and this icy continent. Scientists have estimated the scale of human activity in the southernmost point of the globe, analyzing satellite data for the period from 2005 to 2016.
According to their research, all buildings in Antarctica cover 0.4 square kilometers, which is comparable to the area of the Vatican. At the same time, 81% of them occupy 54,274 square kilometers of an ice-free area of the continent. This is less than half a percent of all ice-free Antarctica.
The visual footprint of a person, which is understood as land and water areas with visible human activity, is 93,500 square kilometers, of which 58,500 square kilometers refer only to land.
The total area of the Antarctic territories with direct human intervention is 5,242 square kilometers. More than half of the large ice-free areas near the coast where penguins and other species characteristic of the Antarctic live have a human footprint. In order to protect the continent from anthropogenic activities, in 1961 the relevant Treaty was adopted to regulate it.