Antarctica is the southernmost continent. It surrounds the South Pole and is located almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, surrounded by the Southern Ocean.
Here are some awesome facts about this amazing place.
LAND OF ICE Although 98% of Antarctica is ice, there is land underneath the ice cover, unlike the Arctic where the ice floats on top of the ocean. The ice averages around a mile in thickness (1.6 km). At its thickest point the ice sheet is 15,669 feet thick (4,776 m). Melting Antarctica's ice sheets would raise oceans around the world by 200 to 210 feet (60 to 65 m).
DRIEST Well, it might not be the driest place in the world but there is almost no precipitation, despite the fact that the continent's ice comprises 70 percent of the planet's fresh water and 90 percent of the ice. Antarctica is considered a desert since the annual precipitation on the coast is only 8 inches (200 mm). Inland the island only receives an annual precipitation of two inches (50 mm)..
BIOLOGY Despite the cold temperatures and lack of precipitation, there are a few brave organisms that have adapted and survived such as mites. nematodes, penguins, seals, bacteria, fungi, plants, and a few more. There are no large land animals that inhabit the continent, other than the Emperor penguin that does not live full time on land. Antarctica has no trees or bushes. Vegetation on the continent is composed of mosses, lichen, and algae. Finding microbial life in some of the most desolate regions of Antarctica has given scientists hope of finding life on other relatively inhospitable planets.
Lake Vostok, a lake hidden deep beneath the Antarctic surface, may house life. Expeditions from several countries are currently drilling the 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) to reach this hidden gem.
Below is a lava lake on Mt Erebus. Not sure I'd want to hop in that lake!
OWNERSHIP no one owns Antarctica. It is protected by the Antarctic Treaty that was signed in 1959 by 12 countries;, with 37 more countries later signing on. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecology. There are no huskies pulling sleds in Antarctica. As of 1994, no non-native species are allowed to be taken to Antarctica. Motor-powered vehicles are the primary method of transportation across the ice.
The highest wind speeds recorded in Antarctica were at Dumont d'Urville station in July 1972: 327km/h (199 mph), equal to the strongest wind gust recorded in the world at Mount Washington, New Hampshire (USA) on April 12, 1934, at 199mph (327km/h).
TIME ZONE There is no time zone in Antarctica since all of the time zones converge at the pole. Researchers decided to officially operate on New Zealand time. The area below 60 degrees south enjoys one long day and one long night each year. The sun sets in March and rises in October. For six months each year the sun shines 24 hours a day at the South Pole.
PEACEFUL PLACE Antarctica has the distinction of being the most peaceful place on Earth. No wars have ever been fought on Antarctica. Since no sovereign country owns the island or any part of the island, tourists and scientists who visit the continent do not need a passport, a visa, or anyone's permission to visit.
ONLINE ROCKHOUNDING ADVENTURE PROJECT UPDATE
I finished segment D of the second adventure yesterday. One segment to go! Once I finish the last segment, I want to spend a few days going through the adventures real time as a participant. I hope to launch the project next week. I'm not sure how the transfer of files will go on launch. Plus, I'll have to work with my webmaster to make sure everything is in order on the subdomain pages that will be accessed through www.agatelady.com. I'll let everyone know how it is going. I'll also do a full update of the webpage as part of the official launch. Wish me luck.
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http://www.livescience.com/21677-antarctica-facts.html / NZ IPY-CAML