The Antarctic

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     Antarctica was the last continent to be mapped because it was so isolated and difficult to move through. Antarctica was first sighted in 1820 by Edward Bransfield, at latitude 63 29 S, on the north-western coast of the Peninsula. Further explorations explored parts of the continent, but systematic mapping did not begin until 1945.
     The five stamps show the way the map of the Antarctic Peninsula changed in the twentieth century and show the different techniques and instruments that were used.
     The 1902-1902 chart depicts the track of the Swedish expedition vessel. It shows how little was known of the peninsula at the beginning of the century. Theodolites were used to establish the positions of prominent features.

SCN 253

     British and American surveyors worked along the east coast of the peninsula using plane-tables to produce the first modern map in 1949. The eastern limit of the Larsen ice shelf was not well defined.

SCN 254

     Aerial photography improved the quality of mapping. All the ice shelves are recorded on the map from 1964. Still, the coast south of 75 S is badly defined. Tellurometers (radio distance instruments) were used to measure distances

     Satellites like Landsat meant that areas that had never been visited could be viewed, and positions plotted. The 1981 map shows improvements in detail and accuracy to 80 S.

SCN 256

     The first seamless digital map of Antarctica, published in 1993, was prepared by merging data from over 200 paper maps and satellite images. Higher resolution satellite images and GPS produced greater accuracy.

SCN 255

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