By Elijah Mt. Castle and Mitch Burcham
Imagery from Earth Observation Group’s VIIRS Nighttime Light provides additional support to a recent claim by The Atlantic that operations within Antarctica have maintained steady during the global COVID-19 outbreak. This image depicts Antarctic research bases that have maintained operation even as U.S and Australian funding as decreased due to pandemic induced budget cuts. According to Leah Fieger and Mara Wilson of The Atlantic the sustained activity, seen on the map as red dots, is the result of Russian and Chinese efforts to effectively imperialize the region. While all research in Antarctica is a collaborative effort, the decrease in U.S involvement in the area has given the green light for China and Russia to stake claim in land and potential resource treasure troves. The actual outcome of this is unclear as diplomatic discussions about the region happen regularly, however those discussions cannot begin again until social distancing practices are more relaxed. Until those discussions can begin, Antarctic operations could prove to be a topic of interest in the coming months.