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26 Frosty Facts About Antarctica

Antarctica is the fifth largest continent situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere covered mostly with ice. It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and contains both the geographic and magnetic South Poles. Antarctica, being the coldest continent, with no inhabitants is filled with some super fun facts that are bound to captivate you!

  1. The word ‘Antarctica’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Antarkike’, which means ‘opposite to the north’ or ‘opposite to the Arctic.’
  2. The first person to discover Antarctica was the American explorer Charles Wilkes, who led the United States Exploring Expedition all the way back in 1838.
  3. Antarctica is an icy desert- the driest of the seven continents which receives very little rainfall throughout the year. It is also known to be the coldest continent, where the coldest air temperature measured in 1983 was -89.2°C/-128.6 °F at the Vostok Station.
  4. The land area of Antarctica is approximately twice the size of Australia and fifty times the size of the UK!
  5. The speed of the wind in Antarctica is bound to sweep you off your feet, both literally and figuratively! It is measured to be more than 218 miles per hour or 350 kilometres per hour, which makes it the windiest place on the planet!
  6. One-tenth of the earth is covered with ice, guess where ninety percent of the ice comes from? That’s right, Antarctica!
  7. The continent’s largest lake is Lake Vostok, which is incidentally, found under the ice sheet.
  8. The highest peak in Antarctica is Vinson Massif located near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula, which rises to a whopping height of 4,897 meters above the sea level!
Vinson Massif

Vinson Massif

  1. Antarctica is surrounded by the Southern Ocean, which is a combination of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans and covers an area of 14 million square kilometres.
  2. There are no permanent residents living in Antarctica, given the climatic conditions, thereby earning the title of being the least populated continent.
  3. There is not much flora in Antarctica and this is attributed to the extremely cold climate. There are absolutely no trees or bushes in all of Antarctica!
  4. The vegetation in Antarctica is limited to mostly mosses, algae and lichens, which is found in the northern and along the coastal areas of Antarctica.
  5. Did you know that there are about 5 million penguins in Antarctica? Antarctica is home to the Emperor penguins, which are the tallest and heaviest of all penguin species. These penguins feed on krill, squid, and fish, and grow to over 120 cm/48 inches in height and weigh up to 45 kgs/100 lbs.
  6. Other prolific hunters found in Antarctica include seals, whales, and bugs.
  7. The Belgica Antarctica is the only insect native to the continent and is a species of flightless midge 2-6mm long. It lives most of its life frozen in ice, in larval form.
  8. Another interesting fact is that ants inhabit almost all continents of the earth- sparing Antarctica!
  9. Antarctica is a continent managed according to the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959. According to this treaty, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Norway put aside their territorial claims in the interest of mutual cooperation for scientific research.
  10. Additionally, another protocol was approved to the treaty in 1994, which banned mineral and oil exploration on Antarctica for 50 years.
  11. Antarctica is divided into three main parts, East Antarctica being the biggest part. A mountain range called the Transantarctic Mountains separates it from West Antarctica. The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part that projects from West Antarctica.
  12. The population of Antarctica comprises mainly of scientists and researcher staff and varies according to the climate – summer has around 4000 people while winter has just 1000 people!
  13. In summer, the sun doesn’t set for several months. Can you imagine that? Summer starts in December and ends in February, while winter lasts from May to the end of August. In winter, the sun doesn’t rise for six whole months!
Paradise Bay, Antarctica

Paradise Bay, Antarctica

  1. The largest research station in Antarctica is the McMurdo Station, where more than 1000 scientists work on various research projects during the summer. Additionally, there are 18 countries who regularly send researchers and scientists to different stations on this continent. The biggest stations are held by the USA, Russia, Chile, Australia, and Argentina.
  2. Mount Erebus and Deception Island are the two active volcanoes on this continent.
  3. Mount Erebus measures 3,795 meters and features a 1700°F lava lake, a swirling pool of magma. Quite the contrast to the icy cold facts we’ve been reading about Antarctica, isn’t it?
  4. The Lemaire Channel is the most popular tourist destination in Antarctica and is a narrow gap of water that runs for approximately 7 miles between the mainland’s Kiev Peninsula and Booth Island. It has earned the nickname of ‘Kodak Gap’ for its serene beauty and outstanding wildlife.
  5. Aurora australis, the Southern lights in the Antarctic winter between March and September is one of the world’s greatest wonders. An aurora is a natural light display usually greenish colour but sometimes red or blue, in the Earth’s sky seen in the high-latitude regions around the Arctic and Antarctica. The aurora appears often as curtains of folding light that constantly changes shape.

The world’s frostiest freezer Antarctica surely has some interesting and awesome facts, which truly make it an amazing and unique continent.

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