June 9, 2007

Global Warming Threatens Antarctic Base

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - The Antarctic base occupied by British explorer Robert Falcon Scott on his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole on foot early last century has been included on a list of the world's 100 most endangered sites.

The list, compiled by an international panel and released Wednesday by the World Monuments Fund, identifies what are considered to be the world's most endangered historic, architectural and cultural treasures.

The WMF identified climate change as the biggest threat to the hut, built in 1911 at Cape Evans by Captain Scott's British Antarctic expedition. The hut is wooden but for decades was permanently frozen. With the ice melting, the timbers have become waterlogged and are rotting.

Thousands of objects and artifacts from the expedition, which cost Scott and his team their lives during their return journey from the South Pole, remain in and around the hut.

Nigel Watson, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust director, said Friday the New Zealand government supported any efforts to preserve the site and hoped the listing would attract donors.

He said the estimated cost of conserving the site was $6.7 million.

New Zealand's Everest conqueror and Antarctic explorer Sir Edmund Hillary has been vocal in supporting the preservation of the Scott hut, along with another occupied by a fellow British polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackelton.