A Fact File about Antarctica.

Area: 14,000,000 km2

Population: 1000 (none permanent)

Government: none, governed by Antarctic Treaty System

Partial territory claims: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom

Climate: Severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation, and distance from the ocean; East Antarctica is colder than West Antarctica because of its higher elevation; Antarctic Peninsula has the most moderate climate; higher temperatures occur in January along the coast and average slightly below freezing

Terrain: About 98% thick continental ice sheet and 2% barren rock, with average elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 meters; mountain ranges up to nearly 5,000 meters; ice-free coastal areas include parts of southern Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, the Antarctic Peninsula area, and parts of Ross Island on McMurdo Sound; glaciers form ice shelves along about half of the coastline, and floating ice shelves constitute 11% of the area of the continent

Natural resources: iron ore, chromium, copper, gold, nickel, platinum and other minerals, and coal and hydrocarbons have been found in small uncommercial quantities; none presently exploited; krill, finfish, and crab have been taken by commercial fisheries

Natural hazards: katabatic (gravity-driven) winds blow coastward from the high interior; frequent blizzards form near the foot of the plateau; cyclonic storms form over the ocean and move clockwise along the coast; volcanism on Deception Island and isolated areas of West Antarctica; other seismic activity rare and weak; large icebergs may calve from ice shelf

Environmental issues: in 1998, NASA satellite data showed that the antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, covering 27 million square kilometers; researchers in 1997 found that increased ultraviolet light passing through the hole damages the DNA of icefish, an antarctic fish lacking hemoglobin; ozone depletion earlier was shown to harm one-celled antarctic marine plants; in 2002, significant areas of ice shelves disintegrated in response to regional warming

The word Antarctica is derived from the Greek work, 'opposite to Arctic'.  It is the continent surrounding the Earth's south pole, and is the coldest place on Earth, almost entirely covered by ice.  It is also the world's largest desert.

Although there are many myths and speculation about a Terra Australia ("Southern Land"), the first sighting of the continent occurred in 1820 and the first verified landing in 1821 by the Russian expedition of Mikhail Lazarev and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen

With an area of 13,200,000 kmē, Antarctica is the fifth largest continent, after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. However, it is by far the smallest in population, as it has no permanent population at all. It is also the continent with the highest average altitude, and the lowest average humidity of any continent on Earth, as well as the lowest average temperature.


Palmer station


Q: Where do penguins go to dance?
A: At the snow ball.

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