This is going to be our last article on Antarctica Continent facts. We have already covered a lot of interesting facts about the continent in our previous three articles. If you want to read about them first, follow the links provided in the blue boxes below [you will find one box per page]. So, let us begin with our list…
Antarctica Continent Facts: 1-5
1. 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 Antarctica.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. There is a subglacial lake called Lake Vostok in Antarctica. 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.
5. 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.
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Antarctica Continent Facts: 6-10
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. At 16,362 feet or 4,987 meters, the Vinson Massif is Antarctica’s highest point.
9. Mount Erebus – a active volcano in Antarctica has been erupting continuously since 1972 to present.
10. 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.
Antarctica Continent Facts: 11-15
11. 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.
12. Apart from researchers, Antarctica is actually inhabited by humans. There are no indigenous people living on the continent.
13. Antarctica is also a tourist paradise. International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators said that in 2011, 20,000 tourists visited the continent.
14. 257 people died in Antarctica in 1979 on November 28. Air New Zealand Flight 901 that was operated with McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft was flying over Antarctica with 257 people. They were there for Antarctic sightseeing. The flight crashed on Mount Erebus in whiteout conditions and all people aboard were killed.
15. 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.
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Antarctica Continent Facts: 16-20
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. Almost the whole of Antarctica lies inside the Antarctic Circle, giving it a unique location.
19. No, penguins aren’t the most abundant land animals you find in Antarctica. The title of being ‘most abundant’ goes to tiny nematode worm.
20. Well, penguins are definitely the commonest birds you can find in Antarctica. 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.
Antarctica Continent Facts: 21-25
21. You also get sand dunes in Antarctica. In McMudro Dry Valleys sits the largest sand dune of Antarctica which measures 70 meters or 230 feet in height and over 200 meters or 650 feet in width.
22. Circumpolar Current is the largest current in world that is driven by wind. This current moves west to east in a clockwise direction all around Antarctica. This current moves nutrients, salt and marine life and heat among the main ocean basins of world.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. The ice sheet covering Antarctica is so heavy that it slightly deforms the South Pole, giving the Earth a slight pear shape.
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Antarctica Continent Facts: 26-30
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. Though the continent is full of ice, one of the greatest threats is fire. The environment is very dry and hence, if a fire break out, it will be difficult to stop it.
29. 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.
30. During the warmest cycles of Earth many millions of years ago, Antarctica was covered with rich green forests and guess what? Dinosaurs used to live there.
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?