Antarctica is the only continent on earth which does not have any permanent human civilization. The absence of extensive vegetation renders it difficult for people to reside. This continent is almost twice the size of Australia. Even though 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, it is considered as a desert because this place is the coldest, driest and windiest place with almost no to negligent amount of rainfall every year.
10. Ice Cores- the coolest thing to study about in Antarctica
Ice cores are long cylindrical samples of ice belonging to Antarctic region with dust and air bubble trapped inside. These cores provide a wealth of knowledge relating to earth’s climate in ancient times. If you melt these ice, you can see water which might have belonged to middle ages or the age of Jesus Christ.
9. Biggest Icebergs can be found only in Antarctica
World’s tallest and biggest icebergs can be found only in Antarctica. At 225 sq. miles, B31, is one of the biggest iceberg on the planet. This sheet is larger in size than Chicago. Antarctica icebergs are so huge that it could take years for them to melt. Melting of these icebergs results in the rising of sea-level.
8. There are only 2 seasons in Antarctica- Summer and Winter
In the South Pole, 24 hours of sunlight occur for several months during summer and 24 hours of complete darkness occur for several months during winter. There is only one long night and one long day. Once the sun sets in March every year, it rises again only in October. So, there is complete brightness for six months and complete darkness for six months. Imagine the jet lag. The lowest temperature recorded is minus 89.40C and the average is minus 34.40C. It receives negligent amount of rainfall because of which it is also considered a desert island.
7. Antarctica Grows Bigger in Winter
The size of this continent grows during winters and expands at about 40,000 sq. miles per day. During this time, an extra 12 million square miles of ice around is added to the landmass. In effect, during winters the extra ice doubles the size of the continent. In summer these new ice breaks up and melts, thereby reducing the size of the continent to its original size.
6. The only warm-blooded animal endemic to Antarctica
Emperor Penguin is the only warm-blooded animal which can endure the bitter winter of Antarctica. To facilitate this, emperor penguins are equipped with several special adaptations including four layers of scale-like feathers which protect them from icy winds and provide a waterproof coat, capable of storing large amounts of fat which insulates their bodies while also serving as a long-lasting energy source. They can breed during the worst winter climate and can survive without food for almost 9 weeks.
5. No Ants continent
Antarctica is one of the very few places in the world where you won’t be able to find any specie of ants. Occasionally ants may hitch on a ship or plane and reach there but they die quickly because of the extreme climate which they are incapable of adapting.
4. Best Place to Find Meteorites
Antarctica is the best place in the world to find meteorites. The first meteorite in Antarctica was discovered in 1912. Since then there has been discovery of a large quantity of meteorites. Pieces of Mars that have fallen on Earth in the form of meteorites can also be found here. Finding them in Antarctica is easy as the dark meteorites easily show up against the white sheet of ice. At times, meteorites can be seen gathered at one place. The flow of the ice concentrates them to one place. . This place is heaven for people researching on meteorites.
3. There is no Standard Time in Antarctica
Since the continent experiences 6 months of darkness and 6 months of Sunlight, there is no standard time zone set for this continent. People who stay there follow the time zone of their particular country. Therefore, two different stations belonging to two different countries will show two different times in Antarctica. Areas, where there are no stations situated, have no standard time and they are classified under UTC time.
2. Mount Sidley is the highest volcano in Antarctica
It is Mount Sidley that is the highest volcano in Antarctica and not the popularly known Mount Erebus (which is the second-highest). Mount Sidley is a massive, snow-covered shield volcano. It was discovered by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd on 18th November, 1934 when he was on an airplane flight and he named this mountain “Sidley” after Mabelle E. Sidley, the daughter of William Horlick who contributed to the 1933–35 Byrd Antarctic Expedition. Not much is known about this mountain as it is situated in a remote location with extreme conditions which makes it difficult for people to reach there. The only first recorded ascent of Mount Sidley was by New Zealander Bill Atkinson on 11th January, 1990, whilst working in support of a USAP scientific field party.
1. Politics in Antarctica
Although various countries claim sovereignty in certain regions, Antarctica is not ruled or governed by any country. While many of these countries have accepted each other’s claim, this status is not universally recognized. New claims on Antarctica have been suspended since 1959 and the continent is considered politically neutral as of 2014. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty signed by 12 countries have declared this continent as the as a scientific preserve unfit for civilization and has established freedom of scientific investigation and environmental protection. This treaty has also banned military activity on the continent.
Antarctica forms that part of the earth which people are eager to explore but are incapable due to its extreme climate. However, slowly and steadily, this unknown land is being explored – whether for good or not, time will tell.