60+ Cool Facts About Antarctica

  1. Antarctica 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 coldest place on earth, with the minimum temperature recorded as -89.2 Celsius. A temperature below -80 Celsius has been recorded several times during winters (April to September). Comparatively, the lowest temperature recorded in any other area is -67.8 Celsius in Siberia (Russia).
  3. But the latest satellite measurements show that the lowest temperature in Antarctica can get as low as in any other planet in the solar system. According to estimates, the temperature in the coldest areas of East Antarctica can reach up to -98 Celsius (-144 F) on winter nights when there are very little wind and humidity in the atmosphere. (Source
  4. The highest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica is 17.5 C in Antarctic Peninsula. This temperature was recorded on 24th March 2015. (Source
  5. The Antarctic ice sheet formed 34 million years ago. (Source)
  6. The oldest glacier on earth is in Antarctica. According to estimates, this glacier ice is around 1 million years old. (Source)
  7. 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)
  8. 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

  9. Mount Vinson is the highest mountain in Antarctica, with an elevation of 16,066 feet. (Source)
  10. The driest place on earth is also present in Antarctica. The area is known as Dry Valleys. This place hasn’t 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)
  11. Don Juan Pond in Antarctica is the saltiest place on earth. Its salinity level is 44%. (Source)
  12. Cape Denison in East Antarctica is the windiest sea level station on earth. The windiest hour ever recorded on this station was 95 mph on 6th July 1913. (Source)
  13. A recent comprehensive study finds that the level of snowfall in Antarctica has increased by 10% over the past two centuries. It helps reduce the global sea level slightly. (Source)
  14. The Transantarctic Mountains separate East (Greater) Antarctica from West (Lesser) Antarctica. It is the 4th longest mountain range system in the world.
  15. East Antarctica is larger (around 2/3 of the total area of Antarctica), higher, and colder than West Antarctica.
  16. There is no permanent human residence in Antarctica. But a few thousand people are present in several (permanent and summer) research stations of different countries in Antarctica.
  17. A total of 7 countries have territorial claims in Antarctica, while few have reserved their right of claim.
  18. Antarctica has an Ice Cap climate as almost the whole (around 98%) of Antarctica is permanently covered under ice while the average thickness of this ice is 1.6 km. But Antarctica can also be classified as a Cold Desert as it receives very little average annual precipitation.
  19. 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
  20. According to research, huge mountains are buried deep under the frozen flat Antarctic ice. (Source)
  21. 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)
  22. 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.
  23. Meteorites fall all over the world. But Antarctica is the easiest place to find them due to its remoteness and cold weather. (Source)
  24. 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

  25. Antarctica is an isolated continent, but the Antarctic Peninsula in West Antarctica is just around 1000 km away from South America.
  26. 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)
  27. 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) 
  28. Dinosaurs were present in the rainforests of Antarctica 90 million years ago. Scientists have found fossil remains of these dinosaurs in West Antarctica. (Source)
  29. In a few parts of Antarctica, there is a 24-hour day for several summer months and 24 hours a night during the winter.
  30. 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)
  31. Nematode worms are Antarctica’s most abundant land animal. They can lower their freezing point and protect their cells from freezing water. (Source)
  32. Due to the severe cold climate of Antarctica, trees and other higher plants can’t survive there. Therefore, plant species like mosses, liverworts, etc. can only be seen in Antarctica. Only three species of flowering plants are present in Antarctica.
  33. 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 the sub-zero temperature of Antarctica.
  34. Penguins are commonly associated with Antarctica. But the 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)
  35. The emperor penguin, the largest penguin species, is the only animal breeding during the winter season in Antarctica. (Source)
  36. 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)
  37. The world’s oldest sperm was discovered in Antarctica in 2015. This fossilized sperm of a worm is 50 million years old. (Source)
  38. 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)
  39. 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)
  40. 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

  41. In 1994, dogs and other non-native species were banned from Antarctica after an environmental clause in the Antarctic Treaty. (Source)
  42. But despite these measures, non-native species like moths and flies have been spotted in Antarctica thanks to climate change. But so far, no species of invertebrates have settled in Antarctica. (Source) 
  43. The fossil record proves that few of the first land animals lived in Antarctica around 360 million years ago. (Source)
  44. The Arctic biome (including Antarctica and the Arctic) has the least biodiversity on earth. (Source)
  45. Like dunes in hot deserts, there are megadunes (or snowdrifts) in Antarctica. These are up to 8 m (26 ft) high. These dunes form by constant winds that blow downhill. The formation of a single megadune can take two centuries. (Source)
  46. During the latter half of the 20th Century, the warming of the Antarctic Peninsula was more than other places in the Southern Hemisphere. (Source
  47. At least 11 children have been born in Antarctica. 8 of these births were at Esperanza base.
  48. There are two ATMs in Antarctica. Their location is in the US Antarctic research center McMurdo Station.
  49. 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 past five years. (Source) 
  50. 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)
  51. 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)
  52. 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)
  53. 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 find of its kind on the remote continent. (Source)  
  54. There is a fire department stationed at the US McMurdo Station in Antarctica. (Source)
  55. The first Tinder match in Antarctica materialized in 2014.
  56. There are two civilian towns in Antarctica. These belong to Argentine and Chile. There are facilities like schools, gyms, and medical services in both these towns. (Source)
    A Chilean civilian settlement in Antarctica
    There are two civilian settlements in Antarctica

  57. 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.
  58. Few people must remove wisdom teeth and appendices before going to Antarctica during the winter. (Source)
  59. The world’s southernmost marathon race is held in Antarctica every year. A half marathon organizes on the day of the marathon race.
  60. Port Lockroy in Antarctica is the southernmost post office in the world. It is also a top tourist destination and serves as a museum.
  61. 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 those arriving through the sea. (Source) 
  62. There are 22 airports in Antarctica. 4 of them are medium, while the remaining are small airports. Three of the four medium airports are in McMurdo Station.

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