On the southern-most tip of the planet rests one of the world’s most massive and mysterious landmasses – the frozen realm of Antarctica.
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.
15 Interesting facts about Antarctica
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!
4. Scientists claim that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by about 16 feet.
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.