11 cold hard facts about Antarctica

11 cold hard facts about Antarctica


The South Pole, coldest place on Earth and the one place humans have never settled (not completely). Antarctica was one of the last places to be reached by man, and for good reason, the place is freezing, inhospitable and some of the worst weather imaginable. But it does have penguins, and who doesn’t love penguins. But here are 11 facts about the continent you may not have known.

1. Nobody owns Antarctica

Of course over the years many countries have tried to lay claim to it, including Australia, Argentina and the UK. But in 1959 the Antarctica Treaty was drafted designating the land as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science.” 48 nations have signed the treaty.

2. Antarctica is the only continent without a time zone

Yep, so the scientists who are currently living there either go by their home time or the supply line that brings food and equipment

3. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth

Yeah we all know this, but did you know the average temperature is -50C (-58F, 223 Kelvin) and the coldest temperature ever recorded was -89C (-128F, 184 Kelvin) in 1983. That’s pretty bloody cold.

4. We should all hope that Antarctica stays that cold

If global warming causes the ice sheets on the continent to melt the sea levels across the world would rise by 200-210 feet. Goodbye Norfolk.

5. It is the driest place on Earth

I know you thought it was the Sahara, but no it’s Antarctica. Although ice is technically water it’s not exactly wet down south. The average precipitation for the continent is 10 cm per year. But Antarctica holds about 70% of the Earth’s entire water and 90% of ice on the planet. There’s also the Dry Valleys, places were it hasn’t rained for around 2 million years.

6. There are no permanent residents in Antarctica

Of course there are visiting scientists, but they don’t live there, still keeping their original country of residence. In summer about 5,000 scientists reside there for research, and that drops to about 1,000 in winter.

7. They’re studying ice cores

Well it is covered in ice, so scientists would clearly be studying it. But what they’re doing is extracting long cylindrical samples with dust and air bubbles trapped inside. This can provide information about the Earth’s climate over the past 10,000 years. If they melted it you could drink water that was frozen in the Middle Ages or during the lifetime of Jesus Christ.

8. But it’s also great if you’re interested in meteorites

If a meteorite crashes there it is easy to see in the ice, plus the ice helps preserve it and protect it from corrosion. Since 1970 there have been more than 10,000 of them discovered in Antarctica, with some dating up to 700,000 years old.

9. Icebergs are big in Antarctica

In the year 2000 an iceberg broke free from the Ross ice shelf. It was 183 miles long and 23 miles wide, giving it a surface area of 4,250 square miles above water, and ten times bigger below. If Connecticut was solid ice it would be that iceberg.

10. March of the Penguins was shot here

Emperor Penguins return to the same breeding ground here every winter. They are the tallest(1.1 to 1.3 m) and heaviest of all penguins (38 kg), which means they breed almost exclusively on ice, and thought to be the only bird species to never set foot on land.

11. Antarctica grows bigger in the winter

The sea ice expands about 40,000 square miles per day, adding up to 12 millin square miles of ice around the land mass, basically doubling its size. Then in summer the new ice breaks up and melts away.

Original list here

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