Antarctica is both a physical locality and an imaginary possibility – as a pivot around which the world turns, it has proven historically to be a space where human ideas of exploration, investigation and fantasy have played out.
Yet it is the only continent on Earth that is truly free of government – a place where an international treaty from sixty years ago holds firm. National governments stake claims in the understanding that they will never be enforced, either conceptually or militarily.
But this vast, dry continent is a litmus test for change – a canary in the coal mine of climate crisis. It is a deceptively rich eco-system that negotiates extremes every day, yet the signals it is sending are increasingly ones of distress: ice melt, glacial erosion and a profound change in the character and distribution of its sparse and precious flora.
From climate science, glaciology and marine biology to geopolitics, international law and more, this collection, produced in association with the Australian Antarctic Division, foregrounds subjects and stories from the planet’s deepest south.
Listen to Editor Ashley Hay read her introduction to Griffith Review 77: Real Cool World, 'Between different worlds'.