“If Antarctica were music, it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.” ― Andrew Denton
Antarctica is the only continent with no permanent human habitation. However, there are permanent human settlements, where scientists and support staff live for part of the year on a rotating basis.
The Antarctic is a cold, remote area in the Southern Hemisphere encompassed by the Antarctic Convergence – an uneven line of latitude where cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet the warmer waters of the world’s oceans.
It is the fifth-largest continent in terms of total area, larger than both Oceania and Europe. Antarctica is such a unique continent in that it does not have a native human population. There are no countries in Antarctica, although seven nations claim different parts of it, such as New Zealand, Australia, France, Norway, the United Kingdom, Chile, and Argentina.
Here are awesome facts about this fairytale but a real place that leave even scientists breathless;
Antarctica holds most of the world’s freshwater:
An incredible 60-90 percent of the world’s freshwater is locked in Antarctica’s vast ice sheet – the largest on Earth, covering an incredible 14 million km² of Antarctic Mountain ranges, valleys, and plateaus. This leaves only one percent of Antarctica permanently ice-free.
At its deepest, Antarctica’s ice is 4.5km (2.7 miles) thick – that’s half the height of Mt Everest! If it all melted, global sea levels would rise about 60 m (200 ft).
Antarctica is a desert:
When most of us think of deserts we think of sand dunes and sizzling temperatures, but technically a desert doesn’t have to be hot or sandy, it’s more about how much precipitation the area receives as rain, snow, mist, or fog. A desert is any region that receives very little annual precipitation.
So, while Antarctica may be covered in ice, it has taken an incredible 45 million years to grow to its current thickness, because so little rain falls there. As well as being one of the driest continents on Earth, Antarctica is also the coldest, windiest, and highest.
Antarctica has active volcanoes:
Antarctica is home to several volcanoes and two of them are active. Mount Erebus, the second-highest volcano in Antarctica is the southernmost active volcano on Earth. Located on Ross Island, this icebound volcano has some unique features such as ice fumaroles and twisted ice statues that form around gases that seep from vents near the volcanic crater.
There’s a subglacial lake that flows blood red:
In 1911 on a remote glacier in East Antarctica, a strange phenomenon was observed. The lily-white ice of the Taylor Glacier was being stained a deep red by water flowing from deep within the glacier. For many years the source of the red colour remained a mystery, but in 2017 scientists announced that they had discovered the cause. The water flowing from within the glacier was from a subglacial lake high in salt and oxidised iron, and when it came into contact with oxygen the iron rusted, giving the water its striking red shade, and its name: Blood Falls.
Diamond dust floats in the air:
Although there are low levels of precipitation in Antarctica, meteorological wonders abound and diamond dust is one of them! Diamond dust is made of tiny ice crystals that precipitate out of humid air near the Earth’s surface. It’s a little like an icy fog. As ice crystals hang suspended in the air, sunlight causes them to sparkle, creating a glittering effect that looks like a million tiny floating diamonds. Diamond dust is also responsible for beautiful optical phenomena like sun dogs, halos, and light pillars.
The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth:
This is a warning about global warming as scientists have announced that the Antarctic Peninsula is warming more quickly than many other areas on Earth. In fact, it is one of the most rapidly warming areas on the planet. Over the past 50 years, average temperatures across the Antarctic Peninsula have increased by 3°C (37.4°F), five times the average increase on Earth.
Is this one continent you’d like to have crossed out from your bucket list? Then go ahead! See this wonder of the planet.
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