65 interesting facts about Antarctica
Antarctica – the most inaccessible continent
- About 98% of Antarctica is permanently covered by ice and perennial snow. Most of the remaining 2% are lifeless, dry deserts.
- The Weddell Sea, part of the Southern Ocean, which washes the shores of the continent is the clearest in the world. The transparency of its waters falls just slightly short of the transparency of distilled water, purified of impurities.
- The only musical concert in Antarctica took place when Metallica performed here at one of the polar stations.
- According to an international agreement, the southern continent cannot belong to any country and it is a demilitarized zone.
- Antarctica has its own Internet domain of the first level – .aq. Only organizations that conduct any kind of activity here can get it.
The McMurdo Valleys, the driest place on Earth.
- Antarctica’s McMurdo Valleys are the driest place on Earth. There hasn’t been rainfall here for millions of years.
- Because of global climate change, tundra has begun to form in Antarctica in some places. Scientists say that if the situation does not change, in just a hundred years, give or take, the first trees may appear here.
- Despite the extremely harsh climate, there are insects here. True, very few – only two species, one of which is parasitic on birds. Nothing surprising – it is almost impossible for insects to survive in these conditions.
- Some states, in particular Australia, Great Britain, Chile and Norway, claim parts of this continent. The other countries, including Russia and the United States, reject their claims.
- There are rivers in Antarctica, but they flow only in the summer, a few months of the year. As soon as the extreme cold comes again, they freeze. These temporary rivers are located near the coast, where the climate is milder than inland.
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- It was here that the lowest temperature on earth in the history of observations was recorded, -89.2 °C. And a satellite once confirmed the temperature at -93.2 °C, but since the new record was not confirmed by thermometers, it was not officially recognized.
- Completely terrestrial mammals are not found here, and there are no herbivores in Antarctica. Due to the virtual absence of vegetation, there is simply nothing for them to eat here.
- Because of the thick ice sheet covering it, Antarctica has a dome shape. In the east of the continent the ice sheet reaches 4.8 km in thickness, while in the west it is much more modest, not thicker than 2 km. However, who can say that this is not enough?
- Of all the continents, it is the 5th thickest. Only Australia is smaller, but by a factor of one and a half.
- The longest Antarctic river – Onyx, it reaches almost 30 kilometers in length. But it flows only in summer, in February and March, and the rest of the time looks like an ice ribbon.
Onyx River, the longest river in Antarctica.
- The only rodents to be found in Antarctica are the rats at the polar stations. But if the personnel leave the station for a long time, the rats also die because of the frost.
- One of Antarctica’s natural attractions is the bloody waterfall flowing out of Taylor Glacier. The red-brown color of the water it spews is caused by an abundance of microorganisms that obtain the substances they need by oxidizing minerals.
- Contrary to popular belief, there are no polar bears in Antarctica. But there are plenty of penguins, which are absent in the Northern Hemisphere.
- On average, the population here ranges from 1,000 to 4,000 people, more in summer, less in winter. These are scientists and service personnel of research stations.
- Those employees who remain in the central part of Antarctica, where the worst frosts reign, remain cut off from the world until the onset of local summer. Because of the extremely low temperatures, they will not even get help in case of emergency, because engines cannot operate in such freezing temperatures – gasoline, kerosene and other liquid fuel simply freezes.
There are no polar bears in Antarctica! But there are penguins.
- Every year there is the so-called Ice Marathon. It is a ski race for an impressive distance – as much as 100 kilometers.
- For the entire period of study of Antarctica, 10 people were born here. At scientific stations, of course.
- In the geological past of our planet, the climate on this continent was different – hot and humid. There were even dinosaurs, as confirmed by archaeological finds.
- There are several lakes in Antarctica. One of them, Lake Wanda is the saltiest in the world, the salt content in its water is higher than in seawater, about 10 times. There is no life in it, and it is covered in ice year-round.
- If all the Antarctic ice melted at once, the sea level would rise by about 60 meters.
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- This is the only continent that has no division into time zones. All of Antarctica, with the exception of Amundsen-Scott station lives on the same time. And at the mentioned station the time of New Zealand is in effect.
- Of all the continents of the Earth, Antarctica is the highest, the average height above sea level here exceeds 2200 meters. And in the center of the continent reaches as much as 4000 meters.
- For the entire continent there are only about 100 buildings. All of them are concentrated in the scientific stations of different states.
- Polar explorers working here have such an unofficial notion as the “Club 200”. To become a member of the club in winter one has to get warm in a bathhouse heated up to +120°С, and then jump outside naked when the temperature is no higher than -80°С. The temperature difference is exactly 200 degrees.
- Beneath the ice shell of Antarctica is a mountain range comparable in size to the European Alps.
The way to Antarctica is difficult, long and sometimes quite dangerous
- The atmospheric pressure here is lower than at the same altitude but on other continents. This is due to the extremely low temperatures.
- The average thickness of ice in Antarctica is about 2,500 meters. And in some places, the Antarctic ice sheet reaches as much as 4,800 meters in thickness.
- In the Antarctic dry valleys of McMurdo blow the strongest winds on our planet, their speed reaches 320 km/h. And the wind begins to be considered a hurricane when it reaches a speed of 117 kilometers per hour.
- Previously, there was even a nuclear power plant in Antarctica, which supplied electricity to local workers. But the nuclear power plant was closed back in 1872 after cracks were discovered in the reactor vessel.
- In winter, the area of the continent increases by about 2 million km² due to the freezing of coastal waters. When it gets relatively warm in summer, the ice melts and the continent shrinks again. Then the cycle repeats.
Icebergs that break away from Antarctic glaciers can reach several hundred kilometers in length
- Antarctica has as many as two flags. True, neither of them is official. By the way, there is also a phone code, +672.
- The ozone hole, which is one of the global problems of modern ecology, is located over this continent.
- Sometimes, very rarely, in the warmest summer months, it may rain in some parts of Antarctica.
- It is from the Antarctic glaciers that the largest icebergs break off. The largest of them was 295 km long and up to 37 km wide. All potentially dangerous icebergs have long been tracked by satellites.
- Scientists estimate that the climate in Antarctica has changed about 52 million years ago. The continent used to be closer to the equator, but gradually shifted to where it is now. Most of the living creatures here are extinct, but some species, such as penguins, have managed to adapt to the new conditions.
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- Antarctic ice and snow contain about 70% of all fresh water reserves on our planet.
- Scientists and pundits predicted the presence of a massive continent to the south long before it was actually discovered.
- Antarctica’s glaciers cover an area of about 930,000 km². That’s about the size of a country like Nigeria.
- The warmest month here is February, the last month of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. And the coldest month is August.
- Coastal Antarctic waters are home to amazing fish with colorless blood and almost transparent bodies. They have somehow adapted to life in water that is colder than 0°C.
Penguins are well adapted to the harsh conditions of life in Antarctica
- The places with the most intense solar radiation are in Antarctica. This is a consequence of the ozone hole over the continent.
- People first saw the shores of Antarctica in 1820. It was the Russian expedition of Bellingshausen and Lazarev.
- Conditions in the dry valleys of Antarctica are as close as possible to what can await humans in the colonization of Mars – extremely low temperatures, low pressure, and extremely dry air. That is why some projects related to landing a man on the red planet are conducting various tests here.
- The first man to set foot on the Antarctic shore was the Norwegian K. Borchgrevink. In 1895, an expedition under his command landed on the continent, at Cape Ader. The explorers built two houses, where they spent the winter, and then headed back.
- The race to the South Pole of Antarctica was very strenuous. In 1911, the expedition of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen reached it. Thirty-four days later, a second expedition led by Robert Scott arrived here, which was crushed by the fact that they were outrun. On the way back Scott’s expedition perished in its entirety.
Geographic South Pole of the Earth.
- About 90% of all land-based ice is found exactly in Antarctica.
- In fact, this continent is formed of two. Once upon a time, hundreds of millions of years ago, its eastern part was roughly at the equator, while the western part was in the Northern Hemisphere.
- Under the Antarctic ice sheet, a giant impact crater was discovered, left over from the fall of a large meteorite that occurred about 250 million years ago. The crater is 482 kilometers in diameter.
- Scientists say that if global warming continues at the same rate, in 100-120 years in Antarctica, the first trees may appear.
- It is here that the deepest depression on Earth, not filled with liquid water. It is the Bentley Trench, 2555 meters deep.
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- Ice and snow in Antarctica begin to melt even at air temperatures slightly below 0 °C. The reason for this is solar radiation.
- On the coast of the continent is noticeably warmer than in its central part. In coastal regions the air sometimes warms up to +10 °C in summer.
- Under the Russian Antarctic station “Vostok” there is a freshwater lake of the same name, probably isolated from the environment for millions of years. Closed by a 4-kilometer ice sheet, it reaches an area of about 15500 km². The oxygen content of Lake Vostok is about 50 times higher than usual in fresh water, the water pressure reaches 300 atmospheres, and the temperature ranges from -3 °C to +10 °C.
- Antarctica requires the removal of the appendix and wisdom teeth. They are often the cause of problems, and full medical care is not to be expected here.
- In 1961 the Soviet doctor V. Rogozov in a desperate situation performed an operation to remove his appendix while on the research station here. Quite successfully.
Argentine research station in Antarctica