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 225 Antarctica facts, we will learn about this fascinating continent that you will find surprising and fun! Let us begin…
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 001-010
001. 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.
002. Our Earth’s South Pole is located in Antarctic.
003. The continent is completely surrounded by Southern Ocean. Yes, it is water locked by Southern Ocean from all sides.
004. Ever wondered just how big is Antarctica? It is double the size of Australia and it is way bigger than Europe and even USA.
005. It we include all the floating ice plains of the continent and its islands, the total area of the continent stands at 5.5 million square miles, making it 1.5 times bigger that USA.
006. 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.
007. It is the moisture received from the sky that is used to classify a place as a
008. Did you know that Antarctica is the world’s highest, windiest, coldest and driest continent? Isn’t that a shocker?
009. 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.
010. Talking of being the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica gave Earth its coldest temperature of -89.2°C or -128.56°F. Recorded at Russian Vostok Station back in 1983, that temperature is low enough to make water explode into ice crystals and shatter even steel.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 011-020
011. However, that record was beaten in 2010 on August 10 when the temperature dipped to -138.5°F or -94.7°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.
012. 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.
013. The continent can also get warm though. The highest ever recorded temperature on the continent 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.
014. 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.
015. 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 on the continent.
016. 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.
017. The ice cap that covers the liquid brine, which is 7x more saline that sea water, is 69ft or 21 meters thick, making it Earth’s thickest non-glacial ice.
018. 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.
019. Though it 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.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 021-030
021. Antarctica is the only continent on this planet where you will not find any non-avian reptiles today.
022. The continent has a civilian town owned by Chile. The town has a school, hostel, hospital, Internet, mobile phone coverage, TV service and a post office. That town is called “Villa Las Estrellas”, which translates into “The Stars Town”.
023. There is no time zone in Antarctica, making it the only continent in the world without a time zone. This is where geographical South Pole meets with longitudes of the Earth and hence, any time zone of the world can be used.
024. 15 million years – that’s the time for which the ice sheet of Antarctica has been in existence, continuously!
025. 38 countries in this world have entered into a treaty which prohibit the participant countries from carrying out mineral mining, nuclear explosions, disposal of nuclear wastes and military operations in Antarctica.
026. Based on the reasoning that Husky dogs can introduce new viruses and microorganisms in Antarctica, a treaty was signed preventing entry of Huskies on the continent.
027. Mount Erebus is the continent’s second-highest volcano and is Earth’s southernmost volcano. It is an active volcano. This volcano has been active since 1.3 mya (million years ago). The summit has a lava lake and the volcano is home to Erebus Crystals.
028. A new research has shown that some 40 to 50 million years ago, climate of Antarctica was similar to the coasts of California of today.
029. Ants are one of the most successful colonizers ever know. However, they have failed to colonize a few extremely inhospitable islands and the whole of Antarctica.
030. Only about 2% of whole of Antarctica has no ice cover. Rest is permanently covered in ice.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 031-040
031. Australia claims to own 5.8 million square miles of Antarctica. That’s the largest territory claimed.
032. At 11,000 square kilometers, an iceberg that broke off Antarctica is the world’s largest iceberg that is bigger than
033. In 1977, a pregnant woman was sent to Antarctica by Argentina. The purpose of doing so was to claim a slice of the continent. A boy was born on 7th January 1978. His name was Emilio Palma. He became the first human to be born in Antarctica.
034. Of all meteorites found on Earth till date, 64.7% comes from Antarctica.
035. 50-million-year-old sperm cell belonging to a worm was found in Antarctica. It is the oldest worm in whole world.
036. Belgica Antarctica – it is the only insect known to be a native of Antarctica.
037. The continent is home to Blood Falls – a waterfall with blood-like color.
038. Polar Bears are not found in Antarctica. They can be found only in the Arctic.
39. You can find ATM in Antarctica. Only two ATMs are there. Both the ATMs are provided by Wells Fargo Bank.
040. With oldest-in-world continuous state present since year 1904 in form of a scientific station called Base Orcadas, Argentina claims to be the owner of 965,597 square kilometers of Antarctica.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 041-050
041. Antarctica’s actual size is not really constant. During winters, the size of the continent almost doubles. This happens because of thick ice sheets that form along the coasts during the winter months.
042. For our convenience, we have divided the whole of the continent into two distinct parts – West Antarctica and East Antarctica.
043. West Antarctica makes up only 1/3rd of the whole continent. East Antarctica makes up the remaining 2/3rd of the continent. East Antarctica is nearly as big as Australia.
044. West Antarctica is not a continuous land mass. It is in fact, a series of islands that are frozen. These islands stretch out towards the tip of South America.
045. The East Antarctica and the West Antarctica are separated by a range of mountains called the Transantarctic Mountains. These mountains stretch across the entire continent.
046. The ice sheet covering the East Antarctica has an average thickness of 1.2 miles or about 2 kilometers.
047. The Antarctic ice sheet is not really a smooth sheet. It is an expanse of continuously changing ice. There are massive glaciers that continuously inch across the whole continent.
048. The moving glaciers actually create what is known as Crevasse fields that have cracks that run hundreds of feet in depth. These cracks can be found across the whole of the continent.
049. The cracks on the Crevasse fields are often covered with a shallow snow layer that fool people into thinking that the ice covering is smooth and continuous.
050. The amount of precipitation received by inner parts of the continent is way less than the amount of precipitation received in the coastal areas.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 051-060
051. Inner parts receive amount 2 inches of precipitation annually while the coastal areas receive about 8 inches annually.
052. The continent is the home for colossal blizzards. They are basically snowstorms just like sandstorms found in sandy deserts.
053. The high-speed wind is responsible for picking up snow from ground and blowing it at a speed of around 200 miles an hour, creating white blanket with near zero visibility.
054. The seasons found on the continent are very opposite to that found in north. The continent is in south of the planet, the summer months start from October and end in February. Rest of the months are winter months.
055. Antarctica has vegetation but that’s not in form of bushes or trees. The vegetation on the continent is composed of algae, lichen and mosses.
056. In and around Antarctica, one can find seals, whales and penguins. Krill and fishes are also found in the Southern Ocean.
057. The male Emperor Penguin found in Antarctica is the only warm-blooded animal that lives on the continent during the freezing winter. The male actually nests on the single egg that the female Emperor Penguin lays.
058. The female Emperor Penguin, after laying the egg, goes away and spends time in the sea. The female will spend 9 weeks in sea only to return when it is time for the egg to hatch.
059. Antarctica is the best place to find meteorites because the dark rocks are easy to spot against the backdrop of the white glittering snow.
060. Antarctica was world’s last continent to be discovered (officially) in 1820. There are however various claims from famous historians that Antarctica was discovered much before and that there are ancient maps that show ice-free Antarctica.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 061-070
061. Here’s a fun Antarctica fact: Toss boiling water in air and it will vaporize instantly. Some of particles will however convert in small ice pieces.
062. The continent has floating tongues of ice. These are basically ice shelves. These ice shelves are really massive. The largest of them is the Ross Ice Shelf which is 197,000 square miles in size. It makes up 3.7% of whole of the continent.
063. Gamburtsev Mountains of Antarctica are hidden in plain sight. The mountain ranges spread over 1,200 kilometers in length and are believed to be 8,900 feet in height. The mountains are covered in 2,000 feet or 600 meters of ice.
064. It is believed that the Gamburtsev Mountains are nearly the same size as the Alps of the Europe and the speculated age of the mountains is between 34 and 500 million years.
065. There is a subglacial lake called Lake Vostok on the continent. Well, it is not the only one. There are nearly 400 such lakes. Lake Vostok is however, very special. Sitting 13,000 feet beneath the ice surface, Lake Vostok is largest freshwater subglacial lake in Antarctica.
066. The average depth of Lake Vostok is 432 meters or 1,417 feet and it covers an area of 12,500 square kilometers. Scientists estimate that its volume is 5,400 cubic kilometers.
067. There is a competitor of Grand Canyon in Antarctica. A rift was discovered during 2009-2010 expedition, which has a width of around 6 miles and a length of approximately 62 miles (excluding its extension into the ocean). At its deepest, it is estimated to be 1.5 kilometers deep or 4921.26 feet deep.
068. The Transantarctic Mountains that divide the East Antarctica and the West Antarctica is one of the longest mountain ranges in world with a total length of 3,500 kilometers or 2,175 miles.
069. At 16,362 feet or 4,987 meters, the Vinson Massif is Antarctica’s highest point.
070. Mount Erebus – a active volcano in Antarctica has been erupting continuously since 1972 to present.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 071-080
071. The first person to reach South Pole was Roald Amundsen. He was a Norwegian who reached there on December 14, 1911 and planted the flag of Norway.
072. Antarctica is manned throughout the year. All of them are researchers. In summer times, the number of researchers peak at 4,000 and during the winters, the numbers fall to 1,000.
073. Apart from researchers, the continent is actually inhabited by humans. There are no indigenous people living on the continent.
074. Antarctica is also a tourist paradise. International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators said that in 2011, 20,000 tourists visited the continent.
075. 257 people died on the continent in 1979 on November 28. Air New Zealand Flight 901 that was operated with McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft was flying over the continent with 257 people. They were there for Antarctic sightseeing. The flight crashed on Mount Erebus in whiteout conditions and all people aboard were killed.
076. One of the most famous tourist attractions of Antarctica is the Deception Island, which is basically a caldera of an active volcano. It is a place where people go for enjoying hot springs.
077. During the winter months, most of Antarctica becomes dark. The Earth’s tilt causes the Sun to disappear below horizon during austral winter for the entire duration of the winter. It lasts from autumnal equinox to vernal equinox.
078. CIA World Factbook says that during summer months, more sunlight hits Antarctica than regions near equator simply because the sun stays constantly above the horizon.
079. Almost the whole of Antarctica lies inside the Antarctic Circle, giving it a unique location.
080. No, penguins aren’t the most abundant land animals you find on the continent. The title of being ‘most abundant’ goes to tiny nematode worm.
Amazing Antarctica Facts: 081-092
081. Well, penguins are definitely the commonest birds you can find on the continent. They aren’t solitary birds. They live in colonies and their colonies can be extremely large, rivaling the human population in some of the greatest cities in world.
082. You also get sand dunes on the continent. In McMudro Dry Valleys sits the largest sand dune of the continent which measures 70 meters or 230 feet in height and over 200 meters or 650 feet in width.
083. Circumpolar Current is the largest current in world that is driven by wind. This Circumpolar Current moves west to east in a clockwise direction all around the continent. This current moves nutrients, salt and marine life and heat among the main ocean basins of the world.
084. South Pole is located in Antarctica and logically, it should have a precise location but because of the wobble in the orbit of Earth, exact location of South Pole keeps changing.
085. When fumarole cracks in Mount Erebus, hot gas spews out steam, which instantly cools and freezes right in air forming weird looking towers that can reach up to 10 meters or 30 feet in height.
Note: Fumarole is a crack or an opening in the crust of a planet. Fumaroles are usually present in areas surrounding volcanoes.
086. The ice sheet covering the continent is so heavy that it slightly deforms the South Pole, giving the Earth a slight pear shape.
087. Above Antarctica, there is a hole in the ozone layer. It is the largest known hole measuring 27 square kilometers. This hole is twice the size of whole of Europe.
088. There is something called Antarctic Ice Marathon. It is held annually and participants need to run 100 kilometers. The marathon is held on ice sheet located in Ellsworth Mountains’ shadow – just a few hundred miles away from the South Pole.
089. Though the continent is full of ice, one of the greatest threats is fire. The environment is very dry and hence, if a fire breaks out, it will be difficult to stop it.
090. A scientist in Antarctica once used Tinder app while being there. He found himself a date with a girl who was only 45 minutes away from his location.
091. During the warmest cycles of Earth many millions of years ago, the continent was covered with rich green forests and guess what? Dinosaurs used to live there.
092. Did you know that if all the ice on Antarctica were to melt, the sea levels across the globe would increase by a whopping 200 feet?
General Antarctica Facts: 093-103 | Etymology
093. Did you ever wonder how the continent received its name? The term ‘Antarctica’ is actually a Romanized version of a word from Greece.
94. The Greek work is ‘Antarktiké’. Antarktiké in turn is the feminine form of the Greek word Antarktikós.
095. The meaning of the term Antarktiké is ‘opposite to the north’ or ‘opposite to the Arctic’.
096. The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote a book called Meteorology in circa 350 BCE. In that book, Aristotle wrote about the Antarctic region.
097. Later, Marinus of Tyre mostly likely used the name in his unpreserved world map somewhere around 2nd century CE.
98. Then came Apuleius and Hyginus – two Roman authors who lived somewhere between 1st century and 2nd century CE. They both used the term polus antarcticus for the South Pole. The term polus antarcticus was the Romanized version of the Greek term Antarktiké.
099. From polus antarcticus came the Old French word pole antartike, which was attested back in 1270 CE. The modern French name is pôle antarctique.
100. Middle English picked up from Old French and the term became pol antartik. The term pol antartik was used by Geoffrey Chaucer in a technical treatise that he wrote in 1391. The modern English term is Antarctic Pole.
101. Before the term received its present geographical overtone, it was used for denoting several places that were opposite to the north.
102. For instance, France established a short-lived colony in Brazil back in the 16th century. The colony was named as ‘France Antarctique’.
103. The term Antarctica was formally used for the first time as the name of a continent started in the 1890s. The credit for this goes to John George Bartholomew – a cartographer from Scotland.
General Antarctica Facts: 104-128 | Geography of the Continent
104. The south polar location dominates the continent’s geography. Thus, the continent is dominated by ice.
105. It is located in the southern hemisphere of our planet Earth. The continent is centered around the South Pole but asymmetrically.
106. With reference to the Antarctic Circle, the continent is located mostly towards the south of the Antarctic Circle.
108. Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is the largest ice sheet in the whole world, covers 98% of the entire continent.
109. The Antarctic Ice Sheet has an average thickness of 1.6 kilometers. Just in case you are incapable of comprehending how massive the ice sheet is, here is a simple piece of information that will surprise you – in some areas the ice sheet depresses the continental bedrock by 2.5 kilometers below the sea level.
110. Close to the neck between the Weddell Sea and the Ross Sea, the Transantarctic Mountains divides the whole continent into two parts – the West Antarctica and the East Antarctica.
111. Relative to the Greenwich Meridian, the Western and Eastern Antarctica corresponds to the western and the eastern hemispheres. However, this particular use is often looked upon by many as Eurocentric (worldview biased towards Western Civilization).
112. To counter this Eurocentric view, many people actually prefer to use the terms Lesser and Greater Antarctica for Western and Eastern Antarctica respectively.
113. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet that covers the western side or the lesser side of the continent has managed to attract some concern because there are some chances that the ice sheet can collapse.
114. If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapses, the ocean levels across the world can quickly increase by a few meters!
115. The continent’s mainland has four volcanoes that are considered to be active. The consideration comes from the recent fumarolic activities.
116. The four volcanoes that are present on the continent’s mainland are:
- Mount Melbourne – it is a stratovolcano.
- Mount Berlin – it is also a stratovolcano.
- Mount Kauffman – this too is a stratovolcano.
- Mount Hampton – it is a volcanic caldera.
Note: A stratovolcano is a volcano that is made of alternate layers of ash and lava.
117. There are several other volcanoes that are present on the offshore islands. One of them is Mount Erebus located on Ross Island. Mount Erebus has 10 eruptions recorded in history.
118. A volcanic caldera present on the Deception Island is known to have 10 recorded eruptions and 4 other suspected eruptions.
119. Edinburgh University researchers discovered a whopping 91 underwater volcanoes underneath Lesser Antarctica.
120. The Lesser Antarctica has four major seas which are – Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, Weddell Sea, and Scotia Sea.
121. The major ice shelves present on the western side of the continent include the Ross Ice Shelf, Sulzberger Ice Shelf, Getz Ice Shelf, Abbot Ice Shelf, Larsen Ice Shelf, and Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.
122. The Greater Antarctica has 8 seas which are – Weddell Sea, Scotia Sea, Ross Sea, Mawson Sea, King Haakon VII Sea, Davis Sea, D’Urville Sea, Bellingshausen Sea.
123. The major ice shelves of the Eastern side of the continent include the Voyeykov Ice Shelf, Shackleton Ice Shelf, West Ice Shelf, Amery Ice Shelf, Ekstrom Ice Shelf, the Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf.
124. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet covers most of the Eastern Antarctica.
125. Scientists have found evidence that there may be microbial life present in Lake Vostok – the largest sub-glacial lake in Antarctica.
126. It is interesting to note that it was once believed that Lake Vostok was completely sealed off by glacial ice for anywhere between 500,000 to 1 million years. This belief has now been debunked by recent studies that suggest that large waterflows take place between subglacial lakes.
127. Nonetheless, since the frozen surface has Lake Vostok has similarities to Europa (moon of Jupiter), scientists believe that if life exists in Lake Vostok, the argument in favor of Europa hosting life will be strengthened.
128. The largest surface freshwater lake present on the continent is Lake Untersee. The lake is present in East Antarctica.
General Antarctica Facts: 129-170 | Geology of the Continent
129. Well over 170 million years ago, Antarctica was the part of Gondwana – the supercontinent. We know that Gondwana broke apart over time and the Antarctica that we know today was formed somewhere around 35 million years ago.
Antarctica Facts: Events during Paleozoic Era
130. During the Cambrian Period (which was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era that lasted from 540 Ma to 250 Ma (Ma is abbreviation for Mega Annum, which means a million years), the supercontinent Gondwana had a very mild climate.
131. What is Lesser Antarctica today was partially located in the Northern Hemisphere. It is during this time that huge amounts of shales (a type of sedimentary rock), limestones, and sandstones were deposited on Lesser Antarctica.
132. On the other hand, the Greater Antarctica was located at the equator of the planet. There were tropical seas where trilobites and sea-floor invertebrates flourished.
133. When the Devonian Period started somewhere around 416 million years ago, Gondwana had already moved towards the southern latitudes.
134. The southward move of the Gondwana led to a far cooler climate for the supercontinent. It was during this time that the three mountain ranges namely Pensacola Mountains, Horlick Mountains and the Ellsworth Mountains in today’s Antarctica, received huge deposits of silt and sand.
135. Some 360 million years ago when the Devonian Period was near its end, glaciation started. This glaciation was a result of Gondwana getting centered on the South Pole.
136. Though glaciation started and the climate of Gondwana cooled down, the flora continued to thrive.
137. By the time the Permian Period had set in, fern-like plants (for example Glossopteris) started dominating the Gondwana. These fern-like plants usually grew in swamps.
138. As time passed by, these swamps came huge coal deposits in today’s Transantarctic Mountains.
139. By the time the Permian Period ended, much of Gondwana experienced hot and dry climate because of continued warming.
Antarctica Facts: Events during Mesozoic Era
140. During the Mesozoic Era (250 Ma to 66 Ma), warming continued. This warming led to melting of polar ice caps. The end result was that much of the Gondwana ended up becoming a desert.
141. It was during this time that in Greater or East Antarctica seed fern was established while large amounts of shale and sandstone were deposited.
142. During the Jurassic Period (from 206 mya to 146 mya), the formation of the Antarctic Peninsula started. This period was marked with gradual rise of islands out of the oceans.
143. During this period, in Greater Antarctica, cycads (a type of seed plant) and ginkgo trees were plentiful. Reptiles like Lystrosaurus were also aplenty during this time.
144. On the other hand, almost throughout the Cretaceous Period (146 Ma to 66 Ma), conifer forests dominated the Lesser or West Antarctica.
145. By the end of the Cretaceous Period however, Southern Beech (a type of tree found in Southern Hemisphere) started taking over the Lesser Antarctica.
146. It is interesting to note that during this period, the seas that surrounded Antarctica teemed with ammonites. Not only that, dinosaurs were also present in Antarctica during this period. So far only three genera of Antarctic dinosaur have been discovered which include Antarctopelta, Glacialisaurus, and Cryolophosaurus.
147. The supercontinent Gondwana started breaking up during Mesozoic Era.
Antarctica Facts: Breaking up of Supercontinent Gondwana
148. Before Gondwana broke up the oceans had longitudinal currents. The currents ran from the equator to the poles. These currents were responsible for equalizing the temperature.
149. As the supercontinent started breaking up and spreading out, these oceanic currents changed. The longitudinal currents changed to latitudinal currents.
150. These latitudinal currents became responsible for not only preserving but also accentuating the temperature differences between the latitudes.
151. Around 160 million years ago (Ma or mya), Antarctica and Africa separated. Sometime later around 125 mya (it was during early Cretaceous), Indian Subcontinent broke apart from Antarctica.
152. When the Cretaceous Period was nearing its end, Antarctica, which was still connected to Australia around 66 mya had a nice subtropical climate along with subtropical flora. Even marsupial fauna was also present.
153. Nearly 40 mya, during the Eocene Epoch, Australia-New Guinea broke apart from Antarctica. This break up ensured that the oceanic latitudinal currents kept Australia and Antarctica separate and isolated.
154. This break up also led to the appearance of the first ice.
155. The complete isolation of the continent took place at around 23 mya. This is the time when South America and Antarctica separated from each other because of the opening of the Drake Passage.
156. The Drake Passage is also known as the Mar de Hoces. It is a waterbody that separates the Cape Horn of South America and Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands.
157. When the Drake Passage opened up, the whole of Antarctica was completely isolated by an oceanic current known as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. This current flows around the continent from west to east in a clockwise direction.
158. The complete isolation of the continent eventually gave ice the necessary leeway to spread and gradually replace all the forests. Eventually, the ice managed to cover the entire continent.
Antarctica Facts: Events during the Neogene Period (23 mya to 0.5 mya)
159. The continent has been mostly covered by ice since 15 million years ago. That is precisely what we see today.
Antarctica Facts: Geology of the continent today
160. Highly modern technologies such as satellite imagery, ground-penetrating radar, remote sensing etc. is today allowing scientists to learn about the structures present beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
161. The Lesser of the Western Antarctica has very close resemblance to South America’s Andes Mountain range.
162. Metamorphism (a process in which the geological texture or minerals of pre-existing rocks change) and upliftment of the sediments of the sea bed led to the formation of the Antarctic Peninsula.
163. This metamorphism and upliftment took place during late Paleozoic Era and early Mesozoic Era.
164. When the sediment upliftment was taking place, geological activities like volcanism and igneous (a type of rock which is also known as magmatic rock) intrusion also took place.
165. Rhyolite and andesite are the major types of rocks that are found in the Lesser Antarctica. These are igneous volcanic rocks that were formed during the Jurassic Period.
166. You will be surprised to know that even after the ice sheets were formed on Alexander Island and Marie Byrd Land, volcanic activities took place.
167. Did you know that Ellsworth Mountains region of the Lesser Antarctica is very similar to East or Greater Antarctica? This similarity is in terms of Stratigraphy (a branch of Geology that deals with strata or rock layer study and study of stratification or layering).
168. Geologically, the Greater or East Antarctica is way different from the Lesser or West Antarctica. There are rocks from Precambrian Era and some of these rocks are as old as 3 billion years.
169. The base of the eastern part of the continent is mainly formed of igneous and metamorphic rock platform. On top of this base are many modern rocks like shales, limestones, sandstones alongside coal.
170. These modern rocks came during the Devonian Period and the Jurassic Period and eventually formed the Transantarctic Mountains.
General Antarctica Facts: 171-176 | Minerals of the continent
171. Coal is the primary mineral resource that the continent has to offer. The person who found the coal deposits was Frank Wild during the Nimrod Expedition.
172. Frank Wild found the coal near the Beardmore Glacier.
173. Many parts of the Transantarctic Mountains have deposits of low-grade coal.
174. Significant iron ore deposits have also been identified on the Prince Charles Mountains.
175. In 1973, huge reserves of oil along with fields of natural gas were discovered in Ross Sea. These are by far the most valuable resources that the continent has to offer.
176. It is interesting to note that the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty has banned the mining and exploitation of all mineral resources until 2048.
General Antarctica Facts: 177-190 | Climate of the continent
177. Of all the continents that are present on planet Earth, this continent is the coldest of all. Some 34 million years ago the continent had no ice at all but now it is almost entirely covered by ice.
178. In 1983 on July 21, the continent experienced its coldest natural air temperature at Vostok Station of Soviet Union (now Russia). The temperature was -89.2°C.
Note: We already mentioned it earlier but, did you know that this temperature of -89.2°C is 10.7°C colder than that of the subliming dry ice?
179. Unfortunately, since air has only 0.039% carbon dioxide, production of dry ice on the continent will need a temperature of less than -140°C or -220°F.
180. We also mentioned earlier that in 2010, a temperature of -94.7°C was recorded, making it the coldest temperature ever recorded on the continent.
Note: Unfortunately, the temperature of -94.7°C was recorded by a satellite and not 2 meters or 7 feet above the ground as required by the official method of recording temperature.
181. Precipitation in South Pole is merely 4 inches or 10 centimeters (average) every year.
182. During winter months, the interiors of the continent experiences the average temperature within the range of -80°C or -112°F and -89.2°C or -128.6°F.
183. During the summer months, the temperature near the coastal areas can be between 5°C or 41°F and 15°C or 59°F.
184. A very common health problem for people in Antarctica is that of sunburn. The snow surface of the
185. The continent is located in such a latitude that it experiences continuous darkness and continuous sunlight. This is a type of climate that most of the rest of the world is not at all experienced with.
186. Greater Antarctica or the eastern part of the continent is colder compared to the western part of the continent. This difference is because of the fact that the eastern side has a higher elevation compared to the western part.
187. The central part of the continent mostly remains cold and dry because the weather fronts barely penetrate deep into the continent. Weather front is a boundary separating two air masses having different densities.
188. The central parts of the continent doesn’t get much precipitation but still the ice there lasts for long duration.
189. Coastal areas get heavy snowfall. Did you know that there are records of 48 inches or 1.22 meters of snowfall in just 48 hours?
190. We talked about the Katabatic winds earlier but did you know that these winds actually blow at the continent’s edge and that to at storm force. In the interiors the wind speeds are moderate.
General Antarctica Facts: 191-225 | Biodiversity of the continent
191. Antarctica has very few terrestrial vertebrates but they are all limited to the sub-Antarctic islands. The two known terrestrial vertebrates are the South Georgia pipit (a sparrow-sized bird found in South Georgia Archipelago located off the Antarctic Peninsula) and freshwater duck found on Kerguelen or/and South Georgia.
192. Did you know that the South Georgia pipit is the continent’s only passerine and the only song bird?
193. When it comes to invertebrate lifeforms, the continent has microscopic mites (mites are small arthropods that belong to the Arachnida class and Acari subclass) such as tardigrades, nematodes, lice, Alaskozetes antarcticus, springtails, krill, and rotifers.
194. We mentioned about Belgica antarctica earlier. It is an insect that is native to the continent. But, did you know that it is flightless, the largest purely terrestrial animal, and the only insect found on the continent?
195. Belgica antarctica is small and the maximum size it can attain is 6mm. The minimum size is 2mm.
196. One of the only three birds that breed exclusively on the continent is the Snow Petrel.
197. The continent’s mainland’s rocky shores as well as the offshore islands are used by millions of birds (over 100 million) every year as a nesting place. They nest during the spring season.
198. The primary birds that nest there include the terns, gulls, petrels, and albatrosses.
199. The continent is known for penguins – the flightless birds. It is a known fact that penguins inhabit the Southern Hemisphere with Galapagos Penguin being the only exception that lives at the equator.
200. Of all the penguins that live in the Southern Hemisphere, most of them are concentrated on Antarctica or around the continent.
201. Out of the 18 species of penguins known, 4 are known to live and breed on Antarctic mainland and its close offshore islands.
202. There are another 4 species that are found to be living and breeding on the subantarctic islands.
203. Emperor Penguin is the only known penguin species living on the continent to breed during the winters.
204. The Southern Ocean has nearly 320 described species of fish. Of all these, 9/10th is made up of notothenioids (includes cod icefish and many other families), eelpouts, and snailfish.
205. The most species-rich family of fish are the cod icefish, eelpouts, and snailfish.
206. If we consider only the Antarctic continental shelf and its upper slope, there are 220+ species of fish. Among them, the notothenioids are the most dominating of all, accounting for more than 90% of the total biomass and 100 species.
207. Some fish species from other families include lamprey, hagfish, pearlfish, skates, eel cods, morid cods, horsefish, gadid cods, southern flounders, triplefins, and Antarctic sculpins.
208. When it comes to mammals, there are seven pinniped (seal) species that live on the continent. They are Elephant seals, Antarctic fur seals, Crabeater seals, Weddell seals, Leopard seals, Ross seals, and New Zealand sea lion.
209. The Southern Ocean is the home to 10 different cetacean species of which, 6 are baleen whale species and the remain 4 are toothed whale species. Among the baleen whales, the Blue Whale is the largest that can grow up to 79 feet long and weigh up to 84 tons.
210. Among the marine invertebrates, there are five krill species found in the Southern Ocean along with free-swimming small crustaceans. Among the krill species, the Antarctic krill is a keystone species.
211. On the entire Earth, Antarctic krill is the most abundant species. They make up 500 million tons of biomass on the Earth.
212. The Antarctic krill often form swarms that can stretch for several kilometers. There can be up to 300,000 individuals in every one cubic meter. Such swarms turn the water red.
213. As we said, the Antarctic krill is a keystone species and forms and important food source for many other organisms like leopard seals, seals, whales, icefish, squid, albatross, penguins, and various other birds.
214. The Southern Ocean also has mud-dwelling worms, sea cucumbers, small marine snails. These organisms are also found in the Arctic waters. Their presence in both polar waters is quite surprising but their distribution can be explained by two factors:
a. They are deep ocean organisms and the deep-water temperature in the polar oceans and the equator vary by barely 5°C, allowing them to easily adjust.
b. Major current systems of the world ocean transport them during larval stages or simply transport the eggs.
215. The continent has 1,150 recorded fungi species. Out of these, 400 species form lichens while 750 species do not form lichens.
216. Many of these fungi species are cryptoendoliths. In other words, they live inside rocks. They have evolved under extreme conditions and have played a very important role in rock formation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.
217. The continent also has hundreds of species of algae. Majority of these algae are phytoplankton.
218. In the coastal regions of the continent during the summer months, the diatoms and multicolored snow algae become quite abundant.
219. There are bacteria living at the depths of 800 meters or 2,600 feet under the ice. Yes, they live in extremely cold and dark conditions.
220. The continent doesn’t really support extensive vegetation. There are many factors that contribute to such a condition for instance, the continent has freezing temperatures and lacks moisture. The soil quality is poor and sunlight is scarce.
221. Bryophytes are the major flora type that can be found on the continent.
222. Apart from that there are liverworts (25 species), and mosses (nearly 100 species).
223. There are only three flowering plant species. All these species are located in the Antarctic Peninsula.
224. The three flowering plant species are the Poa annua (a non-native species), Colobanthus quitensis (commonly known as Antarctic pearlwort), and Deschampsia antarctica (commonly known as Antarctic hair grass).
225. These flowering plants grow only for a few weeks during the summer months.
Sources: Science Kids, Factslides, ThePlanetD, List25, Live Science, LiveScience, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Time and Date, USGS, Wikipedia, The New York Times, Wikipedia, Smithsonian, Wikipedia, Nature World News, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Washington University in St. Louis, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, Polar Bears International, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Marinebio, Wikipedia, NASA, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, British Antarctic Survey, Wikipedia