In 2019, tens of thousands of tourists visited Antarctica, which used to be accessible only to researchers and scientists. And, as interest in exploring earth’s extremes grows among the general public, we can expect the demand for excursions to boom in Antarctica.
Of course, not everyone is up for a trip to this frigid continent. And, the good news is that you don’t have to put on a snowsuit to learn interesting facts about Antarctica. Today, you’ll do that from the comfort of your own home, so keep reading to find out more!
1. Antarctica Holds Most of the Planet’s Fresh Water
The Antarctic ice sheet is the biggest, covering nearly 14 million square kilometers. Moreover, only one percent of Antarctica is ice-free all year round. Thus, scientists estimate that at least sixty percent of the earth’s freshwater is in Antarctica’s ice sheet.
In some areas, the ice is over 4 kilometers thick, about half the height of Mount Everest!
2. Antarctica Doesn’t Have Any Trees
While it may seem surprising, Antarctica has no trees or shrubs. There are hardly any plants either. Only two plant species can be found — Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort.
3. Antarctica Is a Desert
With so much fresh water in Antarctica, it may be surprising to learn that this landmass is a desert. While the continent isn’t hot and sandy, it receives very little precipitation. Under these terms, Antarctica qualifies as a polar desert.
4. Antarctica Has Active Volcanoes
Among the many volcanoes in Antarctica, there are two active ones. The first is Mount Erebus, the southernmost active volcano on the planet.
The second volcano is Deception Island, which used to be the home of a scientific station. However, it was abandoned over fifty years ago when the volcano erupted.
5. Fish in Antarctica Have ‘Anti-Freeze’
Have you ever wondered how fish can survive in the polar oceans of Antarctica? Well, a special protein in their blood works like anti-freeze, lowering the temperature at which they freeze. As a result, they can live in sub-zero temperatures.
6. There Are Hundreds of Antarctica Animals
While there aren’t too many plants in Antarctica, there are lots of animals, including:
- Ten cetacean species (whales and dolphins)
- 46 bird species
- Six kinds of seals
- Seven types of penguins
- 235 marine species
- 67 insect species
In addition to animal life in Antarctica, there are also more than a thousand fungi and hundreds of algae species.
7. More Meteorites Are Found in Antarctica Than Anywhere Else
Due to the dry climate of Antarctica, it is nearly impossible for meteorites to corrode. Moreover, they are easier to spot on top of the white ice sheet than in other terrains. Thus, in the last 45 years, scientists have collected thousands of rock samples of unknown origins.
8. There’s a Meteorological Research Station at the Pole of Inaccessibility
The Antarctic Pole of Inaccessibility, the point farthest from surrounding seas, is 12,198 feet (3,718 m) above sea level. Not only is this site difficult to get to when visiting Antarctica, but it has an average temperature of -58.2°C!
While it may seem like no human could have ever stepped foot in this remote area on a trip to Antarctica, the Soviet Union established a meteorological research station here in the 1950s!
After reading these eight interesting facts about Antarctica, you likely know more about this unusual landmass. But, of course, there are many more Antarctica facts, so continue your research if you liked what you learned today!
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