The Antarctic consists of the Continent of Antarctica and the waters, ice shelves and island territories in the Southern Ocean located south of the Antarctic Convergence.
The region usually covers some 20% of the Southern Hemisphere, of which nearly 5.5 %( 14 million square kilometers) is the surface area of the Antarctic continent only.
The Antarctic is a land mass which is surrounded by an ocean. The open ocean allows for the formation of sea ice to move more freely, resulting in greater drift speeds. Besides, Antarctic sea ice often forms ridges much less than sea ice in the Arctic.
Additionally, since there is no land boundary to the north, the sea ice is free to float northwards into the warmer waters where it finally melts. As a result, nearly all of the sea ice which forms during the Antarctic winters melts during the summer.
During the winter, about 18 million km2 (6.9 million square miles) of the ocean is usually covered by sea ice, but at the end of summer, only 3million square kilometers (1.1 million square miles) of the sea ice remains.
Interesting facts about Antarctic:
- Snow falling at the South Pole takes approximately years to ‘flow’ to the Antarctica coast before it drops off the end as a portion of an iceberg.
- Antarctica is the only continent with no reptiles.
- Some regions of Antarctica have had no snow or rain in the past two million years.
- There is a waterfall in Antarctica which runs red as blood!
- The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -128.56oF (-89.2o C), registered at Antarctica’s Vostok Station on July 21, 1983.
- If the ice sheets of Antarctica melt, the world’s oceans would rise by 60-65 meters (200-210 feet).
- The southernmost active volcano is located in Antarctica. It is very near to the United States Research Center. It spews crystals.
- Antarctica is the driest, coldest, highest and windiest continent on Earth.
- Chile has a civilian town in Antarctica, complete various social amenities like hospital, schools, post office, hotel, TV, Internet and mobile coverage.
- Antarctica is the only continent that lacks time zone.
- There are 300 lakes under the Antarctica which are protected from freezing by the warmth of Earth’s core.
- Antarctica has only 1 ATM.
- There are at least 7 Christian churches in Antarctica.
- Antarctica has no permanent residents. The only persons who live there are the visiting scientists. During summer, the number reaches about 5,000.In winter, it decreases to 1,000.
- Antarctica grows bigger in the winter. How and why? Its sea ice expands approximately 40,000 miles every day, adding up to an extra twelve 12 million square miles of ice around the land mass (an equivalent of 1 ½ United States). As a result, it doubles the continent’s size. In summer, the new ice breaks up and melts.