2. Antarctic Almanac

Antarctica – the coldest, driest, windiest place on Earth. This amazing and vast land of ice is full of much wonder and discovery. To learn more, read on.

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A drawing depicting the outline of Antarctic continent with photos of the most characteristic landscapes.

Animals

Antarctica hosts an abundant array of animal life, despite its ice-covered terrain and barren plant life. There are lots of amazing wildlife living in the waters around Antarctica.

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Atmosphere

The atmosphere around Antarctica is not a closed system. It interacts with the land, ice and the ocean and the ice in turn interacts with the ocean. The continual cycle of freezing and melting of the ice around Antarctica creates a constant circulation around the ocean.

Geography

Antarctica is the ice continent located over the South Pole. The continent of Antarctica is a land mass covered with ice up to 14,000 feet thick. The highest point in Antarctica is 16,006 feet, just over 3 miles high. The earth's largest desert is found here. Antarctica is also home to an active volcano, Mt. Erebus which stands at 12,447 feet high.

Icebergs and ice

Did you know the continent of Antactica contains 70% of the world's fresh water (90% of the world's ice)? If it were divided up, every person on Earth could have a chunk of ice larger than the Great Pyramid!

People

Antarctica is mostly inhabited by scientists living and working at various science and exploration stations. Life at these science stations varies from living in primitive huts to stations with many modern conveniences such as private rooms, showers and recreational facilities. Antarctica is one of the most peaceful places on earth since almost everyone living and working there are dedicated to science, and acting on land claims and mining are not allowed.

Government

Who governs Antarctica? The continent of Antarctica is governed by a 46-nation treaty called the The Antarctic Treaty designed to secure the scientific research of all nations (link to copy of treaty).

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Weather and Climate

Weather forecast:

South Pole

Current weather conditions (webcams):

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History

Back in the Jurassic era, Antarctica was once part of a larger land mass called Gondwanaland. This supercontinent included Antarctica, India, Africa, Australia, and South America. This land mass began breaking apart about 180 million years ago. Antarctica, which was once very close to the equator, drifted southward

1773 Exploration begins with James Cook crossing the Antarctic circle. Capt. Thaddeus Ellinhausein from Russia followed. Williams Smith and Edward Bransfeild from England are considered the first to set eyes on Antarctica. Many more explorers followed.

Tourism

Did you know that you don't need a passport, visa or any government's permission to visit Antarctica?

Tourism to the Antarctic started in the 1960s and there has been significant growth since then. There is great debate over tourism, while tourism brings many individuals to discover this vast important continent, tourism also brings threats to the environment because of the disturbance to wildlife, vegetations and pollution.

Tourist Data from IAATO

Fun Facts

Did you know, that...

  • Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth.
  • It is a vast barren land mass that is almost completely covered in ice.
  • It is about one and a half times the size of the United States.
  • What time is it? Since in Antarctica all time zones converge, people living on Antarctica officially follow New Zealand time.
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Interesting Facts:
  • 90%
    the world's
    ice
    is in Antarctica

  • 4,000

    Average Antarctic human population

    in

    summer

  • 10

    Number of

    human babies

    born in Antarctica

  • Summer
    has
    only
    reached
    maximum of 58F

  • Winter
    temperature
    can
    drop
    as low as
    -20F

  • There
    are no native land
    mammals
    in
    Antarctica

  • Antarctica is
    1.5 times the size
    of the
    United States

  • 2,000,000
    estimated
    tons of krill
    in a swarm

  • Krill can go for up to

    200

    days

    without eating

  • 2
    inches
    of precipitation fall in Antarctica
    each year
    on average

  • Antarctica
    is the driest
    continent
    on Earth
    (less than 2 inches of rain per year)

  • 0
    number of
    govern-
    ments

    that rule Antarctica

  • 47
    number of
    countries
    who have signed the Antarctic Treaty

  • 0

    Number of

    permanent

    residents

    in Antarctica

  • 98%
    of Antarctica is covered by fresh water ice

  • 29
    number of
    nations
    that send scientists to conduct experiments in Antarctica

  • If
    Antarctica
    melted,
    the sea level could rise
    200 feet
    worldwide


  • the size, in inches, of the
    average
    krill

  • 10
    number of years krill can
    live

  • 1,000

    Average Antarctic human population

    in

    the winter

  • Krill is more than
    twice
    the total weight of all humans
    on earth

  • 70%
    of world's fresh water
    is
    frozen

  • 10,000
    number of
    eggs
    a female krill lays at one time