60 Cool Facts About Antarctica

  1. Antarctica, the southernmost continent, contains 90% of the world’s ice. It means around 70% of fresh water on earth is present in Antarctica. (Source)
  2. Antarctica is the world's coldest place, while the minimum temperature ever recorded on Earth was -93.2 Celsius (August 2010) at Dome Fuji in Antarctica. A temperature below -80 Celsius has been recorded on several places in Antarctica. Comparatively, the lowest temperature ever recorded in any other location is -73.8 Celsius in Alaska (USA). Scientists believe the temperature at Dome Fuji can reach -100 C, the minimum possible temperature on Earth. (Source)
  3. The highest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica is 17.5 C in Antarctic Peninsula. It was recorded on 24th March 2015. (Source)
  4. The Antarctic ice sheet formed 34 million years ago. According to two theories, it happened due to climate change and the rapid separation of Antarctica and South America millions of years ago.(Source)
  5. The oldest glacier on earth is in Antarctica. According to estimates, this glacier ice is around 1 million years old. (Source)
  6. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the biggest wind-driven ocean current in the world. It isolates Antarctica from the warmer waters of the north, and plays a vital role in moving heat around the earth. (Source)
  7. Mount Erebus in Antarctica is the southernmost active volcano. It is one of few active volcanoes with a constant lava lake.
    Mount Erebus in Antarctica
    Mt. Erebus is the southernmost active volcano

  8. Mount Vinson is the highest mountain in Antarctica, with an elevation of 16,066 feet. It is also the remotest and the last discovered among seven summits. (Source)
  9. The driest place on earth is also present in Antarctica, known as Dry Valleys. This place has not received any precipitation for almost 2 million years. This area of around 4,800 square km is devoid of water, ice or snow. Lake Vanda is also in this region, which is far saltier than the ocean. (Source)
  10. Don Juan Pond in Antarctica is the saltiest body of water on earth, with a salinity level of 40%. It is 18 times saltier than the ocean, which prevents this pond from freezing even at temperatures below -40 C. (Source)
  11. Cape Denison in East Antarctica is the place for fastest katabatic wind on earth. The fastest wind ever recorded on this station was 168 mph (270 km/h) in 1912. (Source)
  12. A recent comprehensive study finds that the level of snowfall in Antarctica has increased by 10% over the past two centuries. It can assist in reducing the global sea level slightly. (Source)
  13. The Transantarctic Mountains separate East (Greater) Antarctica from West (Lesser) Antarctica. It is the 4th longest mountain range system in the world.
  14. East Antarctica is larger (covers around 2/3 of the total area of Antarctica), higher, and colder than West Antarctica.
  15. There is no permanent human residence in Antarctica. However, a few thousand people of different countries are present in several (permanent and summer) research stations.
  16. A total of seven countries have territorial claims in Antarctica. Some others have reserved their right of claim.
  17. Antarctica has an Ice Cap climate as almost the entire (around 98%) continent is permanently under ice, having an average thickness of 1.6 km. But Antarctica can also be classified as a Cold Desert as it receives very little average annual precipitation.
  18. Diamond Dust is a cloud of tiny ice crystals near the ground. It forms in areas with below -13 Celsius temperatures. It is observed for 316 days a year at the Antarctic Plateau. (Source
  19. According to research, huge mountains are buried deep under the frozen flat Antarctic ice. It is difficult to know the exact reason behind the formation of these mountains due to absence of plate boundaries in the middle of this icy continent. (Source)
  20. There are more than 400 lakes present underneath the Antarctic ice sheet. These lakes cover an area equal to the combined size of the USA and Australia. (Source)
  21. Antarctica is one of the two places on earth, along with the Arctic, without any time zone. Scientists staying in Antarctica choose the time zone of their choice.
  22. Meteorites fall all over the world. However, Antarctica is the easiest place to find them due to its remoteness and cold weather. (Source)
  23. Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica is the only area in Antarctica not claimed by any country. It is the largest single unclaimed area on earth. (Source)
    Marie Byrd Land
    Marie Byrd Land is world's largest unclaimed area

  24. Antarctica is an isolated continent, but the Antarctic Peninsula in West Antarctica is only around 1000 km away from South America.
  25. The West Antarctic ice sheet is primarily on the ground below sea level. This ice sheet can completely melt in the next 500 years, raising global sea levels by 3.2 m. On the other hand, the East Antarctic ice sheet is relatively stable due to its location above sea level. Melting of this ice sheet can raise the sea level by 60 m. (Source)
  26. Around 50 million years ago, a few parts of Antarctica had a relatively warmer climate with an average temperature of nearly 14 C (57 oF). (Source)
  27. Dinosaurs were present in the rainforests of Antarctica 90 million years ago. Scientists have found fossil remains of these dinosaurs in West Antarctica. (Source)
  28. In some parts of Antarctica, there is a 24-hour day for several summer months and 24 hours a night during the winter.
  29. A large Ozone Hole (ozone depletion area) is above almost the whole of Antarctica. The emission of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) in the atmosphere is the cause of this ozone depletion. (Source)
  30. Nematode worms are Antarctica’s most abundant land animal. They can lower their freezing point and protect their cells from freezing water. (Source)
  31. Due to the severe cold climate of Antarctica, trees and other higher plants cannot survive there. Therefore, plant species such as mosses, liverworts, etc. can be seen in Antarctica. Only three species of flowering plants are present in this region.
  32. Antarctica is void of any land-based vertebrate animals. Only a few invertebrate animals are present on the surface of Antarctica, including lice, mites, krill, springtails, etc. All these species can tolerate its sub-zero temperature.
  33. Penguins are commonly associated with Antarctica. However, this flightless bird is not exclusive to Antarctica. Only two (Emperor and Adelie) of the 17 species have made Antarctica their permanent home. Penguins are also present in other areas of the Southern Hemisphere. (Source)
  34. The emperor penguin, the largest penguin species, is the only animal that breeds during the winter season in Antarctica. (Source)
  35. In the Antarctic Danger Islands (near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula), an enormous penguin colony of 1.5 million has been discovered after it remained hidden for around 3,000 years. The scientists found this supercolony with the help of the feces of these Adelie penguins. (Source)
  36. The world’s oldest sperm was discovered in Antarctica in 2015. This fossilized sperm of a worm is 50 million years old. (Source)
  37. B-17 is the world’s largest iceberg (size larger than Jamaica). It separated from Antarctica in 2000 and started to drift away towards the north in 2003. It will melt down soon near the equator. (Source)
  38. Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is the world’s largest body of floating ice. It covers an area of 182,000 sq. miles (472,000 sq. km), equal to the Yukon Territory in Canada. (Source)
  39. According to research, more than 3,500 species are flourishing in Lake Vostok. This lake in East Antarctica has been under 4 km of ice for millions of years. (Source)
    Satellite image of Lake Vostok in Antarctica
    There are 3,500 species in Lake Vostok

  40. In 1994, dogs and other non-native species were banned from Antarctica after an environmental clause in the Antarctic Treaty. (Source)
  41. Despite these measures, non-native species like moths and flies have been spotted in Antarctica due to climate change. But so far, no invertebrate species have settled in Antarctica. (Source) 
  42. The fossil record proves that few of the initial land animals lived in Antarctica around 360 million years ago. (Source)
  43. The Arctic biome (including Antarctica and the Arctic) has the least biodiversity on earth due to its extreme cold environment and frozen ground year-round. Life in this biome includes photosynthetic organisms, penguins, whales, etc. (Source)
  44. Like dunes in hot deserts, there are megadunes (or snowdrifts) in Antarctica. These are up to 8 m (26 ft.) high and form by constant winds that blow downhill. The formation of a single megadune can take two centuries. (Source)
  45. During the latter half of the 20th Century, the warming of the Antarctic Peninsula remained above the other places in the Southern Hemisphere. (Source)
  46. At least 11 children have been born in Antarctica. The birth of 8 of these births took place at Esperanza base, an Argentinean research station.
  47. There are two ATMs in Antarctica. Their location is in the US Antarctic research center, McMurdo Station.
  48. Due to global warming and other factors, Antarctica has lost 2.71 trillion tons of ice in the last 25 years (1992-2017). The alarming situation is that around half of this ice loss occurred in the last five years. (Source)
  49. The melting of ice sheets in Antarctica, Greenland, and glaciers will produce complicated changes in sea level due to gravity. The sea level will reduce within 20 degrees (2,200 km) from the ice cap. The sea level will rise less than average from a distance of 20 to 60 degrees (6,700 km). After 60 degrees, the sea level will elevate more than average. (Source)
  50. Captain James Cook, a British, was the first person to enter Antarctic Circle during his second voyage between 1772 and 1775. A Russian, Fabian von Bellingshausen, was the first person to view Antarctic land, now known as Queen Maud Land, in 1820. American explorer John Davis was the first person to set foot on Antarctica in 1821. (Source)
  51. In 2018, American Colin O’Brady completed the first-ever solo and unaided crossing of Antarctica. During his journey, the adventurer skied 932 miles while pulling a 300-pound sled for 54 days. (Source)
  52. In 2013, US rock band Metallica became the world’s first musical band to play a concert on all continents, including Antarctica. This event in Antarctica was also the first of its kind on the remote continent. (Source)
  53. There is a fire department stationed at the US McMurdo Station, the largest settlement in Antarctica. (Source)
  54. There are two civilian towns in Antarctica. These belong to Argentine and Chile. There are facilities such as schools, gyms, and medical services in both these towns. (Source)
    A Chilean civilian settlement in Antarctica
    There are two civilian settlements in Antarctica

  55. There are at least 7 Christian churches in Antarctica. The Ice Cave Catholic Chapel, inside an Argentinean base, is the world’s southernmost place of worship for any religion.
  56. Few people must remove wisdom teeth and appendices before going to Antarctica during the winter. (Source)
  57. The world’s southernmost marathon race is held in Antarctica every year. This half marathon organizes on the day of the marathon race.
  58. Port Lockroy in Antarctica is the southernmost post office in the world. It is also a top tourist destination and serves as a museum.
  59. Thousands of tourists visit Antarctica annually, and their numbers have grown constantly since 2011. More than 51,000 tourists visited Antarctica in 2017-18. Majority of these arrive through the sea. (Source)
  60. There are 22 airports in Antarctica. Four of them are medium, while the remaining are small airports. Three of the four medium airports are in McMurdo Station.

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