Wikipedia, and Space.SE seem to indicate humans become infertile in space due to the increased exposure to cosmic rays. Knowing as we do that Antarctica is holey, and subject to increased radiation (atleast UV if not broad-spectrum), I find myself wondering whether any studies on fertility were ever conducted on that continent.

So ... Are there any studies on the fertility levels of humans/mammals as a function of their stay at Antarctica?


1 Answer 1


I haven't been able to find a study on fertility, but it would be important to note the difference between radiation considered. The dangerous radiation discussed in both of your links are cosmic rays as you noted. Our main defense against this sort of radiation is the earth's magnetic field. The hole you are talking about is in the ozone layer, which is much more important in UV protection than cosmic ray protection. The amount of incident cosmic rays is slightly more at latitudinal extremes due to the deflection away from the equator by the magnetic field, but this is only 1.5 to 2 times greater, see fig. 8.

Unless we figure out how to punch a hole in the magnetic field as well, the main threat in the arctic is skin cancer from UV, not infertility from cosmic rays.

  • $\begingroup$ Agreed on your final remark. A study would still be atleast partially relevant with the ATS coming up for renewal in a decade or so ... $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 4:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've found a number of health-related reports but none of them have mentioned radiation in that way. Only radiation-related health issues I could find is this, which is fascinating.. apparently the US ran a nuclear reactor in Antarctica for a decade from the early 60ss to early 70s. It was complete with 438 malfunctions and a rather sizable spill. vbdr.org/meetings/2012/Presentations/… $\endgroup$
    – gchadwick
    Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 14:42

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