Antarctica – Interesting Facts and Useful Information


When we think of a desert, the image that usually comes to mind concerns yellow sand, scorching heat and sun-breaking rocks. In our surprising planet, however, there are also very cold frozen deserts , among these: Antarctica.

A land unknown by many, wrapped in a mysterious atmosphere that, unlike the usual deserts, brings back a dark, cold and perhaps a bit scary image. But how much do we really know about this distant land?

It often happens that false news, clichés and prejudices lead us to create a completely wrong idea. We put the ideas to ourselves in order: here is a list of 20 curiosities concerning Antarctica, completely true.

1. Not the whole continent is covered with snow

When we think of Antarctica we immediately think of meters of snow, the truth is that there are places where it does not rain and it has not snowed for more than two million years! I speak of an area of about 4 thousand km (1% of the territory) completely dry: Dry Valleys. Furthermore, according to an Australian study on climate change, this unusual part of the continent could expand in the coming years, to include 25% of the total territory of the country.

2. 70% of the world’s water is in Antarctica

It has been ascertained that if all the glaciers in the Antarctic continent melt, the world sea level would rise by 61 meters (200 feet). Indeed, it is precisely in Antarctica that 90% of the world’s ice is concentrated and 70% of the fresh water in the world. An incredible resource concentrated in this extreme part of the world.

3. The average ice thickness is 1km

How many times has it happened to us, watching a film set in Antarctica, to think that at any moment the ice under our beloved protagonist’s feet could break completely. In reality, the depth of the enormous layers of ice that cover the territory can exceed one kilometer. There are areas of the continent where the thickness is smaller, but on average this is 1.6 km (1 mile) and can reach up to 4.8 km (3 miles).

4. The largest Antarctic iceberg beats the size of Jamaica in size

With such an open landscape, it is often difficult to understand what the real size of a piece of ice is. Sometimes, however, these come to be greater than whole islands! This is the case of the B-15 iceberg , which with a surface of 11 thousand square kilometers has exceeded the size of Jamaica . After reaching this record, the glacier broke in 2000 into many small pieces and spread into the sea.

5. Emilio Marcos Palma was the first man born in the southernmost place in the world

Before him, 10 others had taken their first breath in the lands of Antarctica, but it was only in 1978 (Emilio’s birth year) that the most southern place in the world was reached as a birthplace . He was born at the Esperanza base, in the Argentine lands of Antarctica, near the tip of the Antarctic peninsula.

6. There are only two civilized countries

In Antarctica most of the territory is obviously desolate, all the inhabitants are gathered in two very small countries. Villa Las Estrellas (the country of the stars) was created in 1984 by Pinochet to reaffirm the Chilean presence on the territory. Here there is a research station, a school, a hospital, a post office and a hostel. The other civilized place is the Esperanza base , which gives home to 10 families and 2 teachers.

7. More than 300 lakes under the ice

Under the thick layers of ice on the territory there are large bodies of water: lakes ! The phenomenon, although incredible, seems not to be so rare in Antarctica. Water does not freeze due to numerous factors that pass from geothermal heat to air pressure, thus creating large lakes, some connected, others isolated. It is precisely in this last case that the possibility of developing new microorganisms, possibly still unknown, presents itself.

8. The lowest temperature in history

In Antarctica the lowest temperature in history and in the world was recorded: -98 ° C. To reach such low degrees, scholars have observed that the main characteristics are: dry air and clear sky.

9. Mont Erebus: the volcano in Antarctica

Another paradox of this incredible land is certainly that of the Mont Erebus volcano . The volcano is still active and continues to emit gas and to deliver pieces of semi-molten rock. Inside the lava reaches 970 ° C , obviously at several meters of depth.

10. 3 million tons of ice lost in the last 25 years

The problem of climate change is even more visible and evident when one thinks of the enormous quantity of melted ice in Antarctica over the past 25 years: 3 million . The numbers are even more worrying if you look only from 2012 to today, when the phenomenon has become even faster than in previous years. To date there are 241 tons of ice lost every year!

11. In Antarctica there is only one ATM

Only one possibility to withdraw cash across the continent! The ATM was installed only in 1998 in the McMurdo station. This is the main site for researchers throughout the territory. Being close to New Zealand, the ATM only dispenses US dollars . Will that be enough?

12. Vent so strong to reach 320 Km / h

In a territory so vast and so desolate the record could not be missing as one of the most windy places in the world. In 1972 a speed of 320 km per hour (200 miles per hour) was recorded from the French base . In addition to the wind, snow is often added: even if it does not snow, it is raised by the wind, thus creating the illusion that it is snowing even at that time.

13. A continent without reptiles

There are no reptiles among the animal species present in Antarctica . Antarctica is the only continent where reptiles do not live.

14. The Red Waterfall

In Antarctica it is possible to find a waterfall , whose waters flow completely red, of a color very similar to that of blood.

15. The impossibility of treatment

In Antarctica one cannot work if the wisdom teeth and the appendix have not been removed. All this is due to the near impossibility of receiving treatment on this continent. Simple health problems would be enough to reach serious complications.

16. The time zone

The various states of the world are divided into specific time zones, with the exception of Antarctica, which is the only continent without a time zone .

17. The churches

Despite the hospitality of the Antarctic continent, it has been calculated that on this continent there are at least 7 Christian churches .

18. Ants

The ants have colonized almost every area of our planet. However, they failed to colonize Antarctica.

19. Australia

L ‘ Australia claims to have the largest territory in Antarctica. It would correspond to 5.8 million square kilometers.

20. Tourism

And last but not least – it is an obvious fact that more and more tours and expeditions are being organized to Antarctica. It is great to explore the world, but let’s do it responsibly. If you are interested or planning to visit this beautiful place, read our article Is It Really Responsible to Visit to Antarctica? first.

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