At the bottom of our world, there is a place that is icy, that is cold and holds so much of ice that it literally deforms our planet. Yes, it is none other than our Antarctica. In this list of 20 Antarctica fun facts, we will learn about this fascinating continent that you will find surprising and fun! Let us begin…
Antarctica Fun Facts: 1-5
1. Antarctica is not just any landmass. It is actually a whole continent. In fact, it is a very big continent. It is the 5th largest continent of this world.
2. Our Earth’s South Pole is located in Antarctic.
3. Antarctica is completely surrounded by Southern Ocean. Yes, it is water locked by Southern Ocean from all sides.
4. Ever wondered just how big is Antarctica? It is double the size of Australia and it is way bigger than Europe and even USA.
5. It we include all the floating ice plains of Antarctica and its islands, the total area of the continent stands at 5.4 million square miles, making it 1.5 times bigger that USA.
Antarctica Fun Facts: 6-10
6. The whole of Antarctica is a desert. It is the world’s largest desert. Wondering why it is a desert? For a place to be a desert, it doesn’t need to be covered with sand.
7. It is the moisture received from the sky that is used to classify a place as desert. The annual precipitation received by inner parts of Antarctica is 50 millimeters or 2 inches. Sahara Desert gets more rainfall than this. This makes Antarctica a desert – the world’s largest.
8. Did you know that Antarctica is world’s highest, windiest, coldest and driest continent? Isn’t that a shocker?
9. Talking of being windiest, the continent is known for receiving Katabatic or downhill winds on a regular basis. The wind blows at a speed of 185 miles per hour or 300 kilometers per hour.
10. Talking of being the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica gave Earth its coldest temperature of -84.5°C or -129°C. Recorded at Russian Vostok Station back in 1983, that temperature is low enough to make water explode into ice crystals and shatter even steel.
Antarctica Fun Facts: 11-15
11. However, that record was beaten in 2010 on August 10 when the temperature dipped to -135.8°F or -93.2°C. This temperature occurred close to a high ridge lying between Dome Fuji and Dome Argus – two summits on the Antarctic ice sheet known as East Antarctic Plateau.
12. On July 31, 2013, in a place nearby, the temperature dipped to -135.3°F or -93°C. That was the second coldest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica.
13. Antarctica can also get warm though. The highest ever recorded temperature in Antarctica is 17.5°C or 63.5°F. The exact location for this temperature was Antarctic Peninsula’s Esperanza Base. This temperature occurred on March 24, 2015.
14. Talking of Antarctica being the driest place on Earth, the continent has ‘McMurdo Dry Valleys’. These valleys are snow-free valleys with humidity at extremely low levels. The reason why they are dry is that the mountains that surround the valley prevent the glacial ice to flow in.
15. Here is something really interesting. McMurdo Dry Valleys is home to Lake Vida – a hypersaline lake. It is also the place where Onyx River is found, which is a meltwater stream and is also the longest river in Antarctica.
Antarctica Fun Facts: 16-20
16. Did you know that Lake Vida is considered as a ‘time capsule’ by scientists. The lake is so saline that its water remains liquid even at a temperature of -13°C. However, this liquid brine is present below a thick sheet of ice cap.
18. The ice cap present on Lake Vida has managed to prevent water and air coming in contact with the hypersaline brine beneath it for many thousands of years, giving scientists direct access to ancient DNA, making the lake a time capsule.
19. Though Antarctica is world’s driest continent, it is the place where 70% of Earth’s freshwater is present. Also, 90% of Earth’s freshwater ice is present in Antarctica.
20. Talking of dryness, there are some ice-free places in Antarctica which have received no rainfall for over 2 million years.
Well, our first list of Antarctica fun facts ends here. We are not quite done with the continent. There is a lot to say about it. So, expect a few more Antarctica facts lists in the coming days.