10 Interesting Facts About Antarctica
There are so many interesting facts that we don’t know yet about our planet, Earth. This is especially true when it comes to places that are remote, hard to reach, and where the climate is harsh and uninviting. That makes Antarctica one of the most mysterious places on Earth – it’s an icy, remote, permafrost desert with many secrets that are yet to be unraveled.
In contrast to the Arctic, which is an ocean surrounded by land, Antarctica is an ice-covered land surrounded by ocean. Isolated from the rest of the world, Antarctica has grown into one of the most mysterious and magical continents on Earth.
Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth. It is bigger than Europe and almost doubles the size of Australia. The South Pole is found in Antarctica and the continent is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. As well as being one of the coldest continents on Earth, Antarctica is also the driest, windiest and highest. It is a wonderful and stark land of extremes, quite unlike anywhere else on the planet.
While humans don’t permanently reside in Antarctica, several thousand people live and work at various research facilities found on the continent. While Antarctica features harsh living conditions, several plants and animals have adapted to survive and call the icy continent home.
An incredible 60-90% of the world’s fresh water is held in Antarctica’s huge ice sheet. The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest on Earth, covering almost 14 million square kilometers of Antarctic mountain ranges, valleys, and hills. In total, Antarctica holds some 26.5 million cubic kilometers of ice.
Antarctica is a desert. When most of us think of deserts we think of sand dunes and sizzling temperatures, but technically a desert doesn’t have to be hot or sandy, it’s more about how much rainfall the area receives. Any region that receives very little annual precipitation can be considered a desert. Antarctica may be covered in ice, but it has taken 45 million years to grow to its current thickness because so little rain falls in Antarctica. The average annual rainfall at the South Pole over the past 30 years is just over a centimeter.
Around 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of the freshwater is in Antarctica. If all of the Antarctic ice melted, sea levels in the world would rise about 200 feet (61 meters).
Antarctica is almost completely covered in a thick layer of ice. The thickness of the ice sheet varies depending on the location. On average, the ice is more than one mile (1.6 km) thick, but in some sections, it can get as thick as almost three miles (4.8 km).
This record of -144 °F (-98 °C ) is about as cold as it is possible to get at Earth’s surface, according to the scientists. The conditions under which such low temperature can occur, are dry air and a clear sky, persisting for several days. If they persisted longer, the temperature could drop even lower, but researchers don’t think that it is likely to happen.
In the past 25 years, Antarctica has lost more than 3 trillion tons of ice. Sadly, the ice loss process has accelerated dramatically over the last five years. While analyzing data from multiple satellite surveys from 1992 to 2017, a group of 84 international researchers has found that Antarctica is currently losing ice about three times faster than it did before 2012. Now it is predicted that more than 241 billion tons of ice is lost each year.
Naturally, Polar bears now live in countries that surround the Arctic Circle: US (Alaska), Norway, Russia, Canada, and Greenland. Contrary to the popular belief, Polar bears do not live in Antarctica, but only in the Arctic, as there was no way they could reach the south pole.
Did you enjoy the review? We would love to hear from you! Tell us your thoughts! Thank you for reading 10 Interesting facts about Antartctika!
All photos are courtesy of Our World Travel Selfies and Albatros Expeditions.