http://www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ipy07.sci.life.eco.

discant/ INTRODUCTION Centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle, Antarctica is the southernmost continent and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean; alternatively, it may be considered to be surrounded by the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, or by the southern waters of the World Ocean. It covers more than 14,000,000 km2 (5,400,000 sq mi), making it the fifth-largest continent, in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America.It is about 1.3 times as large as Europe .About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness.

Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.[2] Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland.[3] There are no permanent human residents but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, seals, nematodes, Tardigrades, mites, many types of algae and other microorganisms, and tundra vegetation. PHYSICAL FEATURES The continent of Antarctica is made up of two regions: the East Antarctica (often called the Greater Antarctica) and the West Antarctica (or the Lesser Antarctica). Transantarctic Mountains - Crossing the entire continent, this mountain range consists of peaks that are 2000 to 4000 meters high, with it's highest peak

of Mt. Kirkpatrick(next to the Beardmore Glacier) standing 4530m tall. Running from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, it is 3500 km long and 100 to 300 km wide, and separates the continent of Antarctica into two regions. Dry valleys- The Transantarctic Mountain chain has the largest of the ice-free rocky areas known as dry valleys. They are found in the land near the McMurdo Cove across from the Ross Island. The foot of the valley is 0 to 500 meters above sea level and the surrounding peaks are 1500 to 2500 meters high. (A new mineral called Antarcticite, a form of calcium chloride(CaCl) crystal, was also found here.) East Antarctica- Having all the four important poles in Antarctica (South pole, South Magnetic pole, South Geomagnetic pole, Unreachable pole), East Antarctica covers more than half of the continent, and is mainly located in Eastern Longitudes. (The land here consists of rocks that are more than 570 million years old, making it one of the oldest rocks in the world.) The central region of Antarctica is a vast ice plateau about 3,000 meters above sea level. Bordering the plateau, the coast of East Antarctica is marked by mountains, valleys, and glaciers. To the north of the plateau lies the ranges of Kottas, Mulig Hoffman, Wolthat, Ser Rondane, Belgica, and the Yamato Moutains.

although only 2 are still active-. two large gulfs cut into Antarctica. West Antarctica also has several other mountain ranges and volcanoes. (Coastal Waters. 60.the Deception Island and Mt. The Antarctic Peninsula is a mountainous. The highest peak in Antarctica is Vinson Massif(5140m) in the Ellsworth Mountains. Deception Island (63. that is in fact a continuation of the Andes Mountains of South America. there are also the Bellingshausen and the Amundsen Seas bordering the West Antarctica.Volcanoes are even found in the continent of ice and snow.0 degrees S. Numerous bays are found indenting the coastline. (West Antarctica developed as part of the Ring of Fire. seperates the offshore islands from the mainland.At the opposite ends of the Transantarctic Mountains. which includes the Antarctic Peninsula. held together by the ice cap. like the Bransfield Strait. They are the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. and channels. a chain of volcanoes encircling the Pacific Ocean). At least 10 of them are recognized today.5 degrees W) is a horse shoe-shaped volcanic island lying west of the . and has volcanoes that are not seen anywhere else in Antarctica. south of the peninsula.West Antarctica is a collection of islands.) Volcanoes. Named after the reknowned explorers. S-shaped land.West Antarctica. Erebus on Ross Island. It contains hardly any old rocks of the East.

and the only beach in Antarctica where it's able to swim. precipitaion.Antarctica Peninsula. a caldera having hot springs. The temperatures vary in places in Antarctica.794 m) was the first volcano found in Antarctica. The Wind: aka Katabatic The most significant factor in Antarctic weather is wind. Since Antarctica can not store heat. Erebus(3. and when the sun is low it cools down fast. (Mt. Near the waters the warmest month is January. . All the factors that make up the weathertemperature. In the middle of the island is Foster Bay. the seasons are opposite with the Northern Hemisphere. The island is only the top of the volcano that lies mostly under water.are extreme compared to any part of the world. the word "extreme" could not be left out. Temperature is directly effected by the amount of sunlight in Antarctica.) Climate When talking about Antarctica's climate.) The Antarctic winter lasts from May until August and the summer lasts from December until February. wind. (Since Antarctica is in the Southern Hemisphere. when the sun is high it gets warm quickly.

As the world's driest continent. diamond dusts which are tiny dust of snow .5 cm of precipitation each year. Katabatic winds are formed in the inland plateaus about 20 to 25 km from the coast and blows out 10 to 30 km offshore. There are three types of snowfall seen in Antarctica. Snow brought by the clouds of low air pressure fronts. This is because of the katabatic winds that pushes away the moist air from the ocean and avoiding clouds to form. There are about nine blizzards a year .As previously said. you may not even be able to see your hand right in front of your face.Many explorers have been lost in blizzards. it receives an average of 14. here it's only in form of snow. The dome-shaped continent of Antarctica is the ideal environment for Katabatic wind. or known as the gravity wind to be formed.) White Desert "Polar Desert" is what many people call the inland plateaus of Antarctica. The inland plateaus are the driest and has only about 5 cm of snowfall each year. These powerful winds leave their marks on the surface of the ice cap. A blizzard is another key factor in Antarctica's climate. Winds that sweep downward from the plateau can average 14 meters per second. (Winds in blizzards can be so strong and powerful that in some. The average annual precipitation on coastal areas average about 30 cm. it's the windiest continent. Although precipitation stands for rain in many parts of the world.

whales. Marine Life Given its extreme temperature. And there aren't any trees there either. The largest recorded Antarctic Cod ever caught was 162 lbs. seals. Antarctica's colorful environment includes seabirds. has no red hemoglobin in its blood. There are only 120 species of Antarctic Fish left. very few plants live there. There are only 800 species of plants existing in Antarctica. They consist of protozoans and small insects. Antarctica hosts a surprising variety of marine and animal life. Lichens are fungus typed non-flowering plants that grow on tree trunks. It is different from most fish. They resemble moss and are very well adapted to Antarctica's environment. 350 of them are lichens. This little known creature. and weighs around two and a half pounds. because it has a beak. making it appear transparent and allowing it to stay comfortable in the extreme cold. The mouth is inside its beak. and on the ground.falling from a clear sky. The largest fish in the Antarctic waters is the Antarctic Cod. and the unique Antarctic Fish. . The lack of hemoglobin serves as a natural anti-freeze. The Plants Because of such harsh and cruel weather in Antarctica now. and frosts derived from frozen steams on the surface of the ice. The average ice fish is around two feet long. (The Small Land Animals The only land animals in Antarctica are very small. rocks. penguins.

They are the Adelie. penguins. red. The only penguins considered as "true" Antarctic penguins are the Adelie and Emperor because they live on continental Antarctica. Rockhopper. It is also the only Antarctic bird never to set foot on land. It breeds and lives on sea ice attached to the mainland. Macaroni. Krill is the main source of food for fish. Other Seabirds . Penguins have a waterproof coat of feathers and a thick layer of fat both of which are essential for swimming. The Antarctic waters are filled with them. shrimp like creatures that are the most abundant of all the Zooplankton in Antarctica. These two creatures are what most of the animals in the Antarctic live on.5 inches and are very important for the Antarctic food chain. The largest of the penguins species is the emperor. and King. Antarctica has many ocean animals. Chinstrap. The land is too warm to support much life but the water is not. Some of the tiny ocean creatures are Zooplankton (krill) and Phytoplankton. Gentoo. They measure about 1. ) The Mascot of Antarctica: The penguin . However.Other than those two there are no other native land animals in Antarctica. seals and whales. Emperor. The bones of these flightless penguins are solid instead of being hollow like most birds. making them unable to fly. Penguins are amazing swimmers but they cannot fly. Krill are tiny. out of eighteen living species there are only seven species of penguins that arefound in Antarctica. birds. The Adelie is the most common penguin (named after a French explorer) and the Emperor is the largest.

" However. The leopard seal is the most fierce.Elephant seals are the largest of the seals. They have an amazing ability in diving and can dive up to 2000 feet into the water. Among these land birds are the wattled sheathbill. Ross. And Whales . They get their name from their "trunk" which is used to scare off other males or to attract females.There are twenty-four other seabirds besides the penguin that can survive in the harsh cold of the Antarctic.) These five species are the Weddel. The Seals Another mascot of Antarctica is the seal. the blue-eyed cormorant. and the Dominican Gull. Among these shorebirds are the brown skua. Seals have blubber and fur to keep them warm. the giant petrel. They eat only fish and squid. The fur seal has a thick coat of fur. the wandering albatross.) The crabeater is the most common seal both in Antarctica and on the earth. leopard. (The Ross seal is the rarest in Antarctica as well as the smallest. (Out of the six seals living in Antarctica five are considered "true" seals because they are "earless. The fur seal is the last specie. There are an additional twelve species of birds that live in Antarctica but they live either inland or in shallow water. crabeater and elephant. and the South Georgia pipit. they're hearing is quite good both in the water and on land. the South Georgia pintail.

lead. and about 220 minerals exist on Antarctica. molybedenum. though none are in use. The Sperm Whale is the largest of the toothed whales. petroleum. . It is also one of the most intelligent creatures too. coal. Coal beds lie within the Transantarctic Mountains. copper deposits were found. Antarctica's Natural Resources Today. Baleen. There are several species making their home in Antarctica. and in East Antarctica small amounts of chromium.Whales are also found in Antarctica as well. gold. or killer whale. and Toothed. which is a bristly substance found in the mouth for filtering food such as krill. manganese. In the Antarctic Peninsula. The whales are split into two groups. iron. The Blue Whale (a baleen) is supposedly the largest creature to ever live on earth. And the largest carnivore is the orca. and zinc were discovered. and the possibility of petroleum in the Ross Sea and the Bransfield Strait were revealed through drilling and coring of the earth.

Antarctica. we must never forget that it is infact a delicate continent which needs our support to remain as it is for many futures to come. The heat is becoming trapped making the earth hotter and hotter over the years. Researchers believe that this causes a physical sink of gases in the stratosphere (region of atmosphere 20 to 50 km above ground). New areas such as astrology and simulation of space life is thought to be opened in the future. This pollution blocks heat from exiting the earth's atmosphere. atmosphere and O-zone. magnetic movements. The research of global climates. there is an isolated region in the atmosphere which moves in a circular motion called the polar vortex. Two of them involves the whole world. Another problem in Antarctica is the greenhouse effect. The earth is slowly heating up. So all the gases float downwards toward Antarctica thus creating a hole above Antarctica. . Over Antarctica. Ozone Depletion & the Green-House Effect There are many issues concerned in Antarctica today. aurora. But to do so. is believed that it holds the key for answers of important questions about the past. Earth science. present. as a continent of wonder. and the eco-system have been done in Antarctica for more than 40 years. The burning of fossil fuels causes air pollution to occur. ice. and our future.Conclusion Many fields of science are studied in Antarctica today.

the potential for oil pollution occurrences such as oil tanker spills. However. natural oil seeps and well blowouts will rise substantially. The continent's usefulness as a scientific tool and international research station will continue to be taken advantage of and Antarctica will continue its important role in providing answers to the dilemma of climate change. If Antarctica is indeed eventually opened for oil exploration activities. Why are the Poles so cold? . the dumping of waste oil.Even a slight change in the earth's temperature will result in disaster. An expected and dramatic increase in world demand for energy over the next 30 years may expose the continent to countries and markets looking for alternative petroleum supplies. If enough ice melts the ocean level will rise and will flood many cities and lowland areas. which many believe it will be. So many scientists are concerned and trying to figure out ways to stop this. The reason is that the heat will eventually melt the huge ice caps in Antarctica and in the Arctic. the Antarctic Treaty system currently in place offers the internationallyowned continent an opportunity to temporarily avoid such premature exploration activities. Antarctica in the 21st Century Antarctica's serenely primitive wilderness faces an uncertain future as debate continues over the question of tapping into the continent's wealth of mineral resources.

thinkquest. it usually stays around 30° F.5C for each 1 km). which is at sea level. or ice) stays there. In addition to being cold. the Antarctic is the driest continent on Earth. the air temperature decreases (by 6. crew member Bill Dunn. solar energy needs to pass through more atmosphere to get to the ground.Captain A. the high reflectivity (albedo) of snow and ice surfaces means that very little of the energy that reaches the ground (or ocean. Why is Antarctica colder than the Arctic? There are two key reasons why Antarctica is colder than the Arctic. Also. As you go up in altitude. http://library. There are a number of reasons why the polar regions remains cold. The second reason is elevation. First.D.org/28779/geography3. even in summer. For instance. moderating temperatures somewhat. In fact. In comparison. allowing more ocean heat to escape into the air. WHOI. This is because the molecules of air are packed so tightly that it's as if the moisture has been squeezed out of it. While the water is anything but warm. Therefore. the Arctic's icy cover is relatively thin and it has an entire ocean underneath it. This is due in part to the fact that colder air can hold less moisture than warm air. Photo by George Tupper. Colburn. the heat gained during the long summer days is small and highly dependent on topography and albedo. The primary reason is that the sun is low on the horizon all day. right.html . the air is much colder compared to the Arctic Ocean. In addition. even in winter areas of open water are present in the pack ice. the Arctic and Antarctic are also very dry. Some of this heat makes its way through the ice to the air. wet tundra and bare ground absorb more solar radiation than ice sheets. it receives very little heat from the ocean. Since the average elevation of Antarctica is 2.3 km. and others wield their ice mallets on Knorr's foredeck during the Labrador Sea cruise. Thus. since Antarctica is a giant landmass. which is often significantly warmer than the air above the ice.

The regions across the equator gets the most and the poles the least.6 degrees C. and the lowest temperature ever. the sun does not rise much from the horizon even in summer solstice(the day having the longest daytime in the year). the amount of sunlight recieved from the Sun differs with regions. But why are they cold? 1. In the polar regions. Antarctica has the most severe natural environment on Earth. the places that give us the shudder just thinking about it. Every minute parts of Antarctica are swept away by the harsh blizzard. Difference in the amount of sunlight Because the Earth is round.fall each year. Trapped in ice.snow and frost. Temperatures drop down easily to -70 degrees C. was recorded at Russia's Vostok Station in 1983. yet the inland plateaus are drier than the Sahara: only 50mm of precipitaion. the sun that is just above the . the north and south poles directly come to our minds. and the driest place on Earth. But why? Why are the Poles Cold? When we think of the coldest places on Earth. Compared with the sun that is directly above our heads. -89. windiest.Why is Antarctica the Coldest Place on Earth? Antarctica is no doubt the coldest.

massive white sheets of ice cover the whole continent and in the Arctic region as well. the day and night gets even longer. both circulating constantly on the Earth's surface. The water and the atmosphere carries heat to various places on the planet by means of wind and ocean current. 2. In Antarctica. Antarctica would be a much warmer place if it was not for the vast ice that covered it. Temperature of Antarctica . The North and South poles both experience 6 months of day and 6 months of night every year. making the poles the coldest place on earth. But not here in the polar regions. the ice sheet act as a mirror which directly reflects it back into space. more are lost in the following 6 months of winter. 6 months of winter and 6 months of summer In most places around the world the sun appears daily. The color of the ground plays an important role when absorbing the sun's heat.horizon is cooler. When thinking about the global climate. 3. As you near the poles. Usually. and the sense of season and "day" is lost. Although the poles receive sunlight in the 6 months of summer. the regions of the equator would be a much hotter place and the polar regions colder than ever. Since the ice is tremendously white. the daytime is longer in summer and the nighttime is longer in winter. two important factors could never be left out. They are the waters that cover 70% of the Earth and the atmosphere. Without them. instead of absorbing the sun's energy. The presence of ICE The most important reason of why the poles are cold is the presence of ice.

Antarctica has about 4. who come together from eighteen countries. Just a note: Living in Antarctica means no telephone. Bowling alleys are found in some stations and in the winter seasons of Antarctica. . Today.. which to some of us might be like murder. too. Emilio de Palma was the first baby ever born in Antarctica as noted in an investigation by the Argentinean Government to see if Antarctica was suitable for family life. Antarctic Treaty Through the Antarctic Treaty. some say that Antarctica should be a Wilderness Park of the world. There are only 42 people that live in Antarctica year-round. Antarctica is only the few areas of the world remaining where humans have not greatly changed the environment.046 people from sixteen countries. But there are other sources of entertainment. In the Antarctic winter months of July and August. and having fun.. television. The Scientist Antarctica has no native human inhabitants. which is January... singing. Antarctica has been preserved. where no . In the summer.115 people from twenty-three different countries. or the Internet. the MidWinter Festival takes place in the research centers of many countries where people engage in activities like movies.. In 1978. Antarctica has approximately 1. radio broadcasting.

convention for the conservation of Antarctic seals. The twelve leading countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in Washington on December 1. There have been over 170 adopted changes to the treaty. interpreted and amended by the member nations. but the land is still not under any country's rule. Article X insures the preservation of the Treaty by member nations. These changes include the agreed measures for the conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora. The Antarctic Conservation Act is part of the U. that is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord. This summit started years of government sponsored national expeditions. in 1959.J. .S. In 1905. Constitution and allows for civil and criminal penalties for unauthorized and illegal deeds. Eisenhower proposed the idea of a treaty to preserve a lasting freedom. Australia. Article VII declares that treaty-state observers can access any stations. or to have nuclear explosives on Antarctica. Article II states that scientific investigation and cooperation between countries can continue. Articles XII. Article III allows the transfer of information and personnel between countries under the supervision of the United Nations and other International Agencies. Article IX states that frequent meetings between member nations must take place. XIII. and a peaceful status for the continent." Article I prohibits military activity and says that Antarctica can only be used for peaceful purposes such as scientific research. France. Norway.S. Article VI puts the treaty into effect in all land. . Argentina. President Dwight D. and agreed on making Antarctica the main focus of world exploration. convention on the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources. Article IV defines no territorial boundaries in Antarctica nor does it allow any new claims while the treaty is in effect. 26 that vote and 16 nations that just participate. met in London. New Zealand and the United Kingdom have all claimed pieces of Antarctica. and other nations do not have claims.development would be permitted. and ice shelves below 60 degrees South latitude.C. The U. the International Geographic Congress. and XIV must be constantly upheld. 1959 and was put into action on June 23. installations and equipment with advance notice of all affairs of state. There are 42 member nations. Article V makes it illegal to dispose of radioactive wastes in Antarctica. There are 14 articles to the Antarctic Treaty which starts with a preamble saying ". 7 of the 26 voting nations claim portions of Antarctica as national territory. Chile. Governmental matters over Antarctica are decided at meetings in which member nations participate. but have retained the right to make a claim. . Article XI states that disagreements must be settled peacefully or by the I. It set-up the basis for government and for the legal management of Antarctica. After the International Geophysical Year (IGY) held from 1957 to 58. Article VIII gives power to the participating countries to regulate their own scientists and observers. 1961.

Maitri is India's second permanent research station in Antarctica. earth sciences. atmospheric sciences. Contents [hide] • • • • • 1 Facilities 2 Milestones 3 Expeditions 4 External links 5 References [edit] Facilities The station has modern facilities to carry out research in various disciplines.Antarctic Treaty serves as a model for peaceful international relations and cooperation. Maitri is situated on the rocky mountainous region called Schirmacher Oasis. such as biology. cold region engineering. [edit] Milestones . after the first station Dakshina Gangotri was buried in ice and abandoned in 1990-91[1]. It was built and finished in 1989. It has a capacity to accommodate 25 people for winter. human physiology and medicine. glaciology. a 50 year ban on mining activity was secured to restore Antarctica for the future. Fresh water is provided through a fresh water lake named Lake Priyadarshini. meteorology. in front of Maitri. communication. In 1991.

1997: India ratified the Environment Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. 1988-1989: India built its second indigenous station ‘Maitri’.eia. 1 October 1984: India was admitted as a member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). So far. 1986: India became a member of Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). It was led by S.Z. Subsequently. one of these was a krill expedition to the southern ocean.php EIA Home Contact Us URL: http://www. annual Antarctic expeditions have been sent through the Department of Ocean Development and the National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research.doe.html . thus upholding its commitment to preserve the pristine continent.gov. where the first Wintering was conducted. [edit] Expeditions The chapter of the Indian Antarctic Programme opened in December 1981 when the first Indian Expedition was flagged off for Antarctica from Goa. including one to the Weddell Sea.India's commitment to polar science can be summarized by the following milestones: • • • • • • • 19 August 1983: India was admitted to the Antarctic Treaty and soon thereafter obtained Consultative Status.gov/emeu/cabs/antarctica. 2005: India completed its first 25 years in Antarctica and launched an expedition in Dec 2005 called the Silver Jubilee Indian Antarctic Expedition. 1983: The permanent station Dakshin Gangotri was built. http://india. Qasim.in/sectors/science/antarctic_expedition. twenty-one such expeditions have been launched.

The expeditions to Antarctica are organised every year by National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) an autonomous institution of the Ministry set up at Goa. institutes. Permanent GPS Tracking Station at Maitri. were also undertaken. three expeditions to the Southern Oceans for carrying out research in the thrust areas of polar science including a Weddel Sea Expedition and Krill Expedition for assessment of Krill Resources in Antarctic waters. Dakshin Gangotri Glacier has been monitored by Indian Scientists for the last 23 years An Ice Core Laboratory to study the ice cores brought from the Antarctica. was initiated in 1981. universities. Communication at Maitri. In addition. survey and service organisations to conduct experiments in all major disciplines of polar sciences. Scientific experiments being carried out at 787 Scientific and Technological Developments Antarctica are in the field of Measurements of Greenhouse gases. Tele Seismic studies. . Goa. So far 25 scientific expeditions have been launched on a regular basis. has become fully operational at NCAOR. ORV Sagar Kanya also conducted experiments in the Southern Ocean.Antarctic Expedition and Polar Science The Antarctic Research Programme.500 personnel drawn from about 75 national laboratories. The Indian station Maitri situated in the Central Droning Maud land of east Antarctica has provided a platform to more than 1. is a national programme that has a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary approach. Study of Crack propagation on Ice Sheet.

Geography Main article: Geography of Antarctica See also: Extreme points of Antarctica. Antarctic territories. and List of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands A satellite composite image of Antarctica Elevation colorized relief Speed of ice streams .

alternatively. The portion west of the Weddell Sea and east of the Ross Sea is called West Antarctica and the remainder East Antarctica. 1983) Type Frequency Ice shelf (floating ice front) 44% Ice walls (resting on ground) 38% Ice stream/outlet glacier (ice front or ice wall) 13% Rock 5% Total 100% Maritime Antarctica Antarctica is divided in two by the Transantarctic Mountains close to the neck between the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea.000 km2 (5.6 km (1. because they roughly correspond to the Western and Eastern Hemispheres relative to the Greenwich meridian. precipitation is very low. as the following table shows: Coastal types around Antarctica (Drewry. The continent has about 90% of the world's ice (and thereby about 70% of the world's fresh water). or by the southern waters of the World Ocean.8 in) per year. and Indian Oceans. Atlantic. making it the fifth-largest continent. The coastline measures 17.165 mi) and is mostly characterized by ice formations.968 km (11.3 times as large as Europe. If all of this ice were melted. down to 20 mm (0.0 mi) thick. . about 1. leading to a desiccated landscape. a sheet of ice averaging at least 1. Antarctica is the southernmost continent and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. in a few "blue ice" areas precipitation is lower than mass loss by sublimation and so the local mass balance is negative. sea levels would rise about 60 m (200 ft).000. It covers more than 14.Size comparison Europe-Antarctica Centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle. In the dry valleys the same effect occurs over a rock base. it may be considered to be surrounded by the southern Pacific.[19] In most of the interior of the continent. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet.400.000 sq mi).

6 °F) at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983. In the interior. Despite the lack of precipitation over the central portion of the continent.[1] Antarctica is colder than the Arctic for two reasons. Second. however. and temperature decreases with elevation.[31] For comparison. this is 11 °C (20 °F) colder than subliming dry ice.22 metres (48 in) in 48 hours have been recorded. Temperatures reach a minimum of between −80 °C (−112 °F) and −90 °C (−130 °F) in the interior in winter and reach a maximum of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) near the coast in summer. Sunburn is often a health issue as the snow surface reflects almost all of the ultraviolet light falling on it. the South Pole itself receives less than 10 cm (4 in) per year. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent. the Arctic Ocean covers the north polar zone: the ocean's relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in the Arctic regions from reaching the extremes typical of the land surface of Antarctica. ice there lasts for extended time periods. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. strong katabatic winds off the polar plateau often blow at storm force. The coldest natural temperature ever recorded on Earth was −89. During summer. much of the continent is more than 3 kilometres (2 mi) above sea level.Climate Main article: Climate of Antarctica The blue ice covering Lake Fryxell. wind speeds are typically moderate. Heavy snowfalls are not uncommon on the coastal portion of the continent. more solar radiation reaches the surface during clear days at the South Pole than at the equator because of the 24 hours of sunlight each day at the Pole. comes from glacial meltwater from the Canada Glacier and other smaller glaciers. Antarctica is a frozen desert with little precipitation.[32] East Antarctica is colder than its western counterpart because of its higher elevation.2 °C (−128. where snowfalls of up to 1. First. At the edge of the continent. in the Transantarctic Mountains. leaving the center cold and dry. on average. Mountain glaciation .

so people sometimes also refer to it as clear-sky precipitation. symbolizing the continent's neutrality. The aurora australis. The number of people conducting and supporting scientific research and other work on the continent and its nearby islands varies from about 1. Many of the stations are staffed year-round. It generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies. who are similarly rotated every year. An Orthodox church opened in 2004 at the Russian Bellingshausen Station is also manned year-round by one or two priests. a frequent atmospheric optical phenomenon. commonly known as the southern lights.Given the latitude. Antarctica has no government. although various countries claim sovereignty in certain regions.000 in the summer. this is the most popular unofficial flag of Antarctica. is a glow observed in the night sky near the South Pole created by the plasma-full solar winds that pass by the Earth.000 in winter to about 5. HMS Endurance: the Royal Navy's Antarctic patrol ship.[32] Population See also: Demographics of Antarctica and List of research stations in Antarctica Antarctica has no permanent residents. is a bright "spot" beside the true sun. Another unique spectacle is diamond dust. but a number of governments maintain permanent manned research stations throughout the continent.[1] . a ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals. A sun dog.[50] the validity of these claims are generally not recognised universally. long periods of constant darkness or constant sunlight create climates unfamiliar to human beings in much of the rest of the world. While few of these countries have mutually recognised each other's claims. the winter-over personnel typically arriving from their home countries for a one-year assignment.[33][34] Politics Designed by Graham Bartram.

000 pairs Breeding Month Dec . impressive concentrations making for ideal viewing conditions for the bird enthusiasts.Oct Dec. But even in such harsh conditions Antarctica remains the home of a large variety of extraordinary wildlife. Due to the shortage of snow-free nesting regions. spending the winter in more temperate climates. There are nineteen species of seabirds that breed along the continent.July Oct . Antarctic Birds Millions of seabirds breed along the coast and offshore islands of Antarctica. crustaceans. It holds the title of coldest. with winds blasting along the coastline at speeds up to 200 mph. and fish. To survive in the biting environment. Its average interior precipitation is less than a couple of inches per year. The birds will migrate north as the summer months come to an end.New claims on Antarctica have been suspended since 1959 and the continent is considered politically neutral. driest and windiest location on earth. most seabirds tend to procreate in large. Antarctic birds have waterproof plumage. Temperatures have been recorded as low as -129 degrees F. During this time seals. penguins and a large diversity of other seabirds migrate to the continent to breed and feed on the virtually unlimited supply of krill. whales. Its status is regulated by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and other related agreements. collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System. making Antarctica a peculiar and brilliant frozen desert of snow. and large compact bodies with a dense layer of fat under their skin. Characteristics Capable of flying 550 miles per day at speeds of 50 mph Will desert their eggs if nests are overly disturbed . Species Albatrosses (various species) Snow Petrels Population 750.Nov Birthing Month Feb . You are here: Home » Articles » Antarctica Wildlife Antarctica Wildlife Antarctic Wildlife Antarctica is a continent of extremes. Antarctica cruises offer amazing wildlife viewing opportunities and the following tables can help in planning your Antarctic travel.000 pairs 1. Each summer month has its own unique wildlife viewing opportunities not to be missed. Wildlife in Antarctica is most active in the austral summer months.

Chinstrap.000 pairs Aug . only Antarctic bird that does not have webbed feet Southern most bird.Dec Nov .Jan Shore-feeding birds. Impressive and elegant in the water. sightings have occurred at South Pole Penguins One of Antarctica's most familiar wildlife. They spend over 75% of their lives as sea where they are most comfortable.Dec Sept . penguins are considered by many to be the continent's signature species. resting on pack ice and iceberg groups Permanent habitants of Antarctica.000 pairs Breeding Month Sept .Oct Winter months Oct . remain at sea. Powerful paddle muscles and a compact hydrodynamic body shape allow penguins to swim up to 25 mph.Dec Nov .only four types of the flightless birds breed on the continent itself: the Emperor.Oct Nov .Nov Birthing Month Dec Characteristics In winter. the only bird that breeds in winter Can only dive a max.Nov Oct . Adelie. and Gentoo penguins.Feb Gentoo Sept .Oct Oct . While seventeen species of penguins can be found in the subantarctic regions .000 pairs Several 100 thousand Several 100 thousand 100. rarely seen out of the sight of land Capable of spitting foul smelling oil up to 5 feet if nests are threatened Aggressive. lasting no more and a half a minute The least abundant penguin species on the subantarctic islands Emperor Sept Chinstrap Jan . of 230 feet.000 pairs Several 1. robbing other bird's nests of eggs Scavengers.Feb Jan Jan Nov Dec .000 pairs 7 million pairs 300. Their bodies are designed for swimming. by contrast penguins awkwardly waddle and hop once ashore. Species Adelie Population 2.including coastal islands .5 million pairs 200.Cormorants Antarctic Fulmars Gulls Sheathbills Skuas 10.

Thankfully. the entire area surrounding Antarctica is recognized as a whale sanctuary. and the lack of polar bears. Today.Jan of the early exploration of Antarctica Nov . whales do not breed in the region.Sept Birthing Month Dec .000 200.Jan Characteristics Largest consumer of krill. Entire populations of species were driven to the brink of extinction. the Antarctic has a much larger seal population than the Arctic. Unlike the other wildlife of Antarctica.Antarctic Seals Much of the early exploration of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean was do to the search for new seal communities. Fin. Minke. Like seals.Dec Nov Austral summer Only seal that eats its other seals Has a siren-like call Can dive deeper than 3200 ft. but seals must return to land to breed. or along the coastal shores of the northern islands. these magnificent giants have not seen their populations recover as well as the seals. while a variety of baleen whales have been sited: Blue. While regulations have been placed on whaling activities. several species of whales were hunted until near extinction in the mid-1900s.Dec Austral summer Austral spring Aug .000 700. Because of the nutrient-rich feeding regions. Humpback.. up to 2 hours 800. Most of the their life is spent in water. many seals were hunted for their valuable skins and oils. the seals are protected by a collection of agencies. The best locations to view their breeding grounds are on the pack ice surrounding Antarctica. inhabiting Sept . traveling great distances from their temperate breeding waters in the north. they do take advantage of the nutrient-filled waters in the austral summer. and Southern Right. consuming 20-25 times their body weight a year Fur Leopard Ross Southern Elephant Weddell 4 million 250. . During the 19th and 20th century. and their numbers have continued to thrive.Oct waters just 800 miles from South Pole Whales Whales are divided into two main groups: toothed and baleen. However.000 Dec Lives farther south than any other mammal. The only toothed whales found in the Antarctic are the Orca and the Sperm whale. today. Species Crabeater Population 30 million Breeding Month Austral spring Nov .000 Their valued fur led to much Nov .

long 40-50 ft.Species Blue Fin Humpback Population 11. long 50 ft. fish Fastest of the baleen whales Very vocal. birds.000 Several 100.000 Size 85-100 ft. don't make the marine long seasonal migrations as mammals other whales Plankton. fish. long Diet Characteristics Krill. fish Krill. krill. Slow and easily hunted. they krill. their complex songs can last 20 min. to 1 mile skate Orca Southern Right Sperm 750. squid. other Largest whale and the largest crustaceans animal ever to live on earth Squid. and be heard 20 miles away Minke 500. are only beginning to recover crustaceans from extinction Giant Swim in schools of 20-25. long 25-30 ft. Hunt in packs.00 thousand 4.000 50 ft.up octopus. long 30 ft. commercially by Japan and squid Norway Fish. deepest diving mammal . fish. long .000 100. long 80-90 ft.000 20.000 Only whale still hunted Krill.

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