Antarctica – the first thing that comes to our mind when we hear this word is coldest place surrounded by ice. If we locate Antarctica on the world map, it can be found in the Southern Hemisphere in the Antarctic region. It is in fact the southernmost continent of the Earth. Antarctica is covered by Southern ocean from all sides and when it comes to area, it is at the fifth position. Only 2 % consists of land and the rest 98 % is covered with ice which is at least 1 mile in thickness. The animals which can adapt themselves to the cold climatic conditions are found in Antarctica and they are usually penguins and seals and we can also find algae, bacteria, fungi and some of the plants which can survive in colder regions. There are many facts about Antarctica that we are not aware of. This article consists of the top 10 facts about Antarctica that will make your mind blow.
World’s largest, tallest and biggest icebergs are found in Antarctica. Antarctica is known for the size of icebergs found here. The biggest iceberg which is so big that it is approximately as big as the state of Rhode Island and is also known as Ice Island is found in Antarctica. Also, the world’s tallest iceberg, which is 550 feet high that is almost as tall as Washington Monument is also from the region of Antarctica. Also, B-15 which is the world’s largest iceberg which is approximately 295 km in length and has the width of 37 km is also found in Antarctica. Iceberg B-15 have the surface area roughly equal to 11,000 km2 which is even larger than Jamaica and even after a decade many a parts of this iceberg have still not melted. Thus, Antarctica is famous for the size of icebergs found here.
9. CONDITIONS ARE SIMILAR TO MARS
It has been declared that Antarctica is similar to Mars in climatic conditions and many other factors. As there is a prolonged darkness in Antarctica, same can be seen in Mars. Both Antarctica and Mars are destitute of natural resources. Many of the dry valleys in Antarctica are similar to the landscapes of Mars. Both Antarctica and mars gives us an unworldly kind of feeling. Moreover, if we consider the climatic conditions, then also both Mars and Antarctica are dry and cold and are covered with a thin layer of ice on the top. The conditions are so similar that scientists from the National Science Foundation and NASA are using Antarctica as a model in lace of Mars to test technology and techniques that will be sent to Mars in the near future. This program is known as the Antarctic Space Analog Program.
8. COLDEST AND DRIEST PLACE WITH ONLY TWO SEASONS
Antarctica is considered as the driest, coldest and windiest place of the earth. The lowest temperature in Antarctica is minus 89.40C and the average is minus 34.40C which is very cold. It is even considered as a desert because of the fact that it receives very less annual rainfall and that is why is very warm and devoid of moisture. Also, there are only two seasons in Antarctica and that are summer and winter. Thus, during summer Antarctica receives sunlight for six months and remains in darkness for the rest six months. Moreover, during winters the size of Antarctica expands and it becomes all the more, big in size.
7. UNIQUE BIODIVERSITY
Apart from invertebrate life, Antarctica also possesses terrestrial vertebrate life. A variety of birds and marine animals can be found in Antarctica that can adapt to such a low temperature. Snow Petrel is a bird that is exclusively found in Antarctica. Also, penguins, blue whales and fur seals are available in Antarctica. Emperor Penguin is a special penguin that breeds in Antarctica during winters and it also the only one that breeds in winters. Many more penguins such as King Penguin, Chinstrap Penguin, Gentoo Penguin and many more species of penguins can be found in Antarctica. Blue whales found in Antarctica are much bigger in size than the blue whales that are found worldwide. They consume approximately 3 % to 4 % of their own weight. Moreover, the Seals that are found in Antarctica behave very differently than any other seals and cover most of the world’s seal population. Thus biodiversity that exists in Antarctica is unique.
6. NO ECONOMY
No economic activities are there in Antarctica. Only a small scale tourism industry exists in Antarctica which is also at the outskirts of Antarctica. Also, fishing is carried in Antarctica but it is carried off the coast. There are only research stations in Antarctica that obviously is not counted in economic activity. Even the Antarctican dollar is not considered as a legal stamp and thus cannot be used as a means to buy things.
5. NO GOVERNMENT
No government system has been set up in Antarctica and it is thus free from any kind of ownership. Many of the countries have tried to overtake Antarctica and have tried to claim it, and some of them even claimed a few territories under themselves, but these claims are only recognized mutually and have not got acceptance universally. On 1959, under the Antarctic Treaty System, an Antarctic Treaty had been signed by 12 member countries which have extended to 48 members by 2010, Antarctica is politically neutral and no one claims it and it can only be used for research purposes.
4. HUMAN LIFE
No permanent occupiers can be seen in Antarctica because of such low temperatures that prevail there and moreover because of unworldly climatic conditions dominating Antarctica. Approximately 1000 non permanent survivors can be found in Antarctica who are there either for research purposes or are tourists. In 1978, seven families were sent to Antarctic mainland by the government of Argentina, to check the survival of human life in this region. Emilio Marcos Palma was the first boy child that was born on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Also, Solveig Gunbjorg Jacobsen was the first girl child who was born on the Southern polar region. There is also a church which was opened in Antarctica on King George Island. It is a Russian Orthodox Church which was built near Russian Bellingshausen Station.
3. BEST FOR METEORITES
Antarctica is the best place to study meteorites and to do research on them. The first meteorite that was found in Antarctica was discovered in 1912. Since, there is a large variety of meteorites that are available in Antarctica, it makes the study and research easy and also provides a better understanding of the varying types of meteorites that exists in the solar system. Even the pieces of the red planet that is Mars have fallen on Earth in the form of meteorite and they can be found in Antarctica. Thus Antarctica can also be called as a gallery of famous meteorites.
2. NO STANDARD TIME
Since Antarctica experience severe day night cycles, it is very difficult to set us a standard time for Antarctica. So, there is no particular time zone for the Antarctic continent. Inhabitants follow the time zone of their particular country and thus time zones are territorially divided according to the locations of the stations of a particular country. Areas where there are no stations situated have no standard time and they are classified under UTC time.
1. EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING AND OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
Antarctica is facing severe impacts of global warming and ozone layer depletion. The ice caps in Antarctica are melting and if the melting of ice continues at this rate, then the whole of Antarctica will melt one day which will increase the water level of oceans to 200 feet to 201 feet which is sufficient enough to drown the whole of Earth. Global warming and Ozone Layer Depletion are also causing the extinction of penguins and many other Antarctic species. Thus, we should follow measures that will help reduce ozone layer depletion and thus prevent global warming.