10 fascinating Antarctic features
10 physical features of Antarctica that will amaze you 10 Amazing physical features of Antarctica that will inspire you to learn more about this wonderful landscape!
On the southern-most tip of the planet rests one of the world's most massive and mysterious landmasses - the frozen realm of Antarctica. This icy expanse stretches out to cover more than 14 million square kilometres, making it the fifth largest continent in the world. It is situated almost entirely within the Antarctic Circle, which means that temperatures are consistently below zero throughout a majority of the year.
Such conditions make life relatively sparse compared to other regions in the world, but the Antarctic animals that do occupy this frosty landscape are well adapted to handle the incredibly harsh conditions seen regularly by explorers and scientists stationed there. While the landscape may seem somewhat desolate to the untrained observer, it is actually one of the most interesting places on earth.
1. The Dry Valleys in Antarctica are the driest places on earth. With such low humidity and moisture on this portion of the continent, snow and ice cannot even accumulate, which leaves the valleys as just a dusty expanse of dirt.
2. Antarctica is, on average, the windiest place on earth. Scientists exploring this southerly landmass have reported wind speeds that have reached up to 200 miles per hour.
3. The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the single biggest mass of ice in the world and can sometimes be up to four miles thick. The continent as a whole contains about 90 percent of the planet's freshwater ice and around 70 percent of the total fresh water on earth!
5. The Ross Ice Shelf - a floating tongue of ice that extends off the continent's main landmass - encompasses more than 510,000 square kilometres and is the largest ice shelf that has ever been discovered.
6. While Antarctica is covered in ice, it actually holds one of the world's biggest mountain ranges - the Gamburtsev Mountains - which stretch out more than 1200 kilometres. The highest peaks are estimated to be around 2,800 meters or about one-third the size of earth's tallest mountain: Mount Everest.
7. Another interesting geographic feature hidden under the ice sheet is Lake Vostok, a freshwater lake buried under 4 kilometres of frozen water. This lake is about the size of Lake Ontario and is one of more than 200 different bodies of water that has been discovered beneath the ice.
8. While the Grand Canyon is largely considered to be the planets biggest natural rift, scientists discovered another trench on Antarctica that could rival one of America's mightiest natural features. The unnamed canyon was found during a 2010 expedition and extends 100 kilometres, is more than 9 kilometres wide and reaches depths of more than 1,6 kilometres. Scientists speculate that it could be even larger, but further exploration is required to learn the true boundaries of this massive rift.
9. Antarctica is home to Mount Erebus - the southern-most active volcano in the world - as well as the only known "lava lakes," which have held liquid magma for eons despite the continent's frigid conditions.
10. There are 30 different countries that operate 80 research stations situated around the continent. The human inhabitants who occupy these facilities number around 4,000 during the summer months and only 1,000 during the long, harsh winters.
11. In January of 1979, Emile Marco Palma became the first human ever to be born on Antarctica. Since his historic birth, only 10 other people have been born on the continent.
12. Because of the earth's tilt, the sun does not rise in Antarctica from the vernal equinox to the autumnal equinox, which means the continent remains dark throughout the entire winter season.
13. Conversely, during the summer months the sun does not set in Antarctica, which means it actually receives more sunlight than the equator during that time frame.
14. In March of 2000, an ice chunk broke off the Ross Ice Shelf that was 270 kilometres long and 40 kilometres wide or roughly the size of the state of Connecticut.
15. Deep Lake in Antarctica is so salty that it cannot freeze, even in temperatures as low as negative 15 degrees Celsius!
Changing climate in Antarctica
Changing climate in Antarctica With the beginning of the industrial revolution in the early 18th century humans began pouring CO2 into the atmosphere – first from burning coal, and later from oil and gas. Since then this period of anthropogenic climate change has led to a global warming of about 1˚C.
Elephant Island Facts
Elephant Island: Five Facts You Need to Know Elephant Island, Antarctica, is named after the elephant seals that make their home there (as well as for its elephant-like shape). The island is located 150 miles off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, in the outer reaches of the South Shetland Islands. Covered in ice and towering above the surrounding Southern Ocean, it’s truly a sight to behold. Here are five notable facts.
When to visit Antarctica
Not sure when exactly to travel to Antarctica? This calendar of what you can see during different stages of its spring and summer season might help you decide. As the sun returns to Antarctica after its long winter, a wealth of wildlife can be seen throughout the spring and summer season. Each period showcases different stages of the cycle of life, including courting, nest-building, giving birth to new life, and raising their young.
Wildlife in Antarctica
Wildlife on ice Antarctica is the only continent with no significant plant life and no native land mammals, reptiles, or amphibians. Even in the extreme environment of Antarctica, life not only survives but thrives. Its icy seas, isolated icebergs and snow-driven deserts are home to wildlife that surprise and charm all who visit them.
Antarctica & Patagonia Expedition (Southbound)
October 23 2022 and October 27 2023 - 18 days
MS Fridtjof Nansen
Antarctic Circle Expedition
February 6 2023 and January 21 2024 - 18 days
MS Fridtjof Nansen