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Antarctica: From Geology to Human History

Take a virtual field trip to Antarctica, as we go on location to explore the geology and history of the coldest, driest, windiest continent on earth.
This course is archived
Estimated 5 weeks
2–5 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

Explore the continent of Antarctica and more than 500 million years of geological history and 250 years of geographical discovery and scientific endeavour.

In this course, you will learn through lectures filmed on location on Ross Island and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica.

Cliff, an Antarctic veteran, with 12 seasons on the ice, will introduce you to some of our planet’s most remarkable landscapes—the Dry Valleys, the Transantarctic Mountains and the world’s southernmost volcanic island. At a remote field camp, he interviews fellow geologists studying fossil-rich sediments—from a time when Antarctica was 20°C warmer than today—to see what Antarctica’s past climate can reveal about what the future might hold.

Rebecca, a science historian and writer who has written extensively about Antarctica, visits Captain Robert Scott’s huts on Ross Island and interviews conservators from the Antarctic Heritage Trust and scientists and logistics staff working at Scott Base and McMurdo Station. You’ll learn about the explorers and scientists from around the world who have been drawn to work and sometimes risk their lives here—from James Cook’s first venture below the Antarctic Circle, to the British scientists who discovered the ozone hole, to the first women to work on the ice.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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  • Knowledge of the chronology of Antarctic geology and human activities.
  • The locations and significance of key geographic features of Ross Island and the Antarctic continent.
  • How research is undertaken in Antarctica, both today and at key points in history.
  • The role of Antarctic paleoclimate research in understanding present and future climate change including the impact on the Antarctic ice sheet volume and global sea levels.

About the instructors

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