Antarctica: Facts About the Coldest Continent

Antarctica: Facts About the Coldest Continent



Antarctica, the coldest and driest continent, contains 90 percent of the ice on the planet in an area that is less than one-and-a-half times the size of the United States.

There are two seasons in Antarctica: Summer and winter because the direction of Earth’s tilt does not change. In the summer, the continent is tilted toward the sun, therefore the sun does not set.

Antarctica is a desert. It receives two inches of precipitation a year, which is less than the Sahara Desert. When it snows, the snow does not melt and builds up over many years to make large, thick sheets of ice, called ice sheets. It is made up of glaciers, ice shelves and icebergs. It has no trees or bushes. The only plants that can live in a place that cold are moss and algae.

Antarctica is too cold for people to live there for a long time. Scientists take turns visiting the continent to study the ice. Tourists visit this continent in the summer. The oceans around this continent are home to many types of wales, seals, and penguins.

Lying in the Antarctic Circle that rings the south section of the world, Antarctica is the fifth largest continent. It’s size transforms throughout the seasons, as sea ice along the coast nearly doubles in size during the winter. The majority of Antarctica is covered with ice, less than half-a-percent of the wilderness is ice free.

The ice of Antarctica is not an even sheet but a continuously unsteady expanse. Glaciers crawl over the continent, damaging and chopping the ice. The crevasse fields contain cracks hundreds of feet deep across the continent, which are hidden by a shallow layer of snow.

People can no longer travel by sleds pulled by huskies. An environmental clause in the Antarctica Treaty required all no non-native species to me removed from the continent. Prior to the treaty, huskies were an integral part of survival. Snow mobiles have replaced huskies as the primary method of transportation across the ice.

If boiling water is thrown into the air in Antarctica, it will instantly vaporize. Most of the particles will turn into steam, while others are instantly converted to small pieces of ice.

Melting this continent’s ice sheets would raise oceans around the world by 200 to 210 feet.

Written by Tynesia Cabil
Edited by Jeanette Smith


Live Science: Antarctica: Facts About the Coldest Continent
NASA: What Is Antarctica?
Cool Antarctica: What’s it like in Antarctica?

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Antarctica’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License