Antarctic Cartography: The mapping of the Terra Australis Incognita , 1531-2007
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
‘It hath euer offended mee to looke vpon the Geographicall mapps and find this Terra Australis, nondum incognita. The vnknown Southerne Continent. What good spirit but would greeue at this? If they know it for a Continent, and for a Southerne Continent, why then do they call it vnknowne? But if it bee vnknowne; why doe all the Geographers describe it after one forme and site?’ -Joseph Hall, 1605. (Quoted by Richardson 1993: 67 – 68). ‘A team of researchers have unveiled a newly completed map of Antarctica that is expected to revolutionise research of the continent's frozen landscape. The map is a realistic, nearly cloudless satellite view of the continent at a resolution 10 times greater than ever before with images captured by the NASA-built Landsat 7 satellite. The mosaic offers the most geographically accurate, true-colour, high-resolution views of Antarctica possible.’ -NASA ScienceDaily excerpt, 2007. The above quotes give an insight into the exciting and complicated history of Antarctic cartography. They represent a paradigm shift from an unexplored ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ whose existence was portrayed in detailed but inaccurate topographic maps, to the representation of the Antarctic continent in the modern era using high-resolution, highly accurate satellite technology. The following article comprehensively reviews the evolution of Antarctic cartography and gives an insight into the processes and problems associated with mapping of the polar regions.
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