Antarctica

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Antarctica : continent around the South Pole; a plateau covered by a great ice cap and mountain peaks area about 5,500,000 square miles (14,300,000 square kilometers) — Webster

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Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,000,000 square kilometres (5,400,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent. For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km (1.2 mi; 6,200 ft) in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 in) along the coast and far less inland. The temperature in Antarctica has reached −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F), though the average for the third quarter (the coldest part of the year) is −63 °C (−81 °F). Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Organisms native to Antarctica include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Vegetation, where it occurs, is tundra. — Wikipedia

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Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis (“Southern Land”) date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation. — Wikipedia

History of Antarctica (Wikipedia)


Notebook from Scott of the Antarctic’s ill-fated expedition discovered 100 years later frozen in ice (ABC News)
Century-Old Notebook From Antarctic Expedition Found (Megan Gannon, Discovery, Live Science)


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Antarctic Sun - Science News Feed Science news items and articles displayed on the Antarctic Sun web site.

  • Circumnavigating the Pole Hole
    on February 14, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    In January, researchers went for a more than 750-kilometer drive around the South Pole. The team followed the arc of the 88th parallel for a quarter of its distance ringing the South Pole. Their cargo was a sensitive GPS unit to record the exact elevation of the ice sheet they drove over. The […]

  • Quantifying Snowfall
    on January 8, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Snow in some form or another blankets almost all Antarctica, but measuring exactly how much snow falls from the sky is tricky. A team of researchers recently set up four newly-developed precipitation observatories near McMurdo Station to better measure how much snow falls in the region. […]

  • The South Pole Telescope's New Eyes
    on December 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

    The telescope at the bottom of the planet spent winter calibrating and collecting data after its vision enhancement last summer. Researchers installed a new camera system in the South Pole Telescope, a major upgrade that allows researchers to collect more data than ever before. […]

  • Life In A Cryoconite Hole
    on October 31, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Diverse ecosystems that teem with life thrive just below the surface of many Antarctic glaciers. Small, frozen holes full of liquid water and microorganisms entombed by ice dot the surfaces of glaciers. Researchers in Antarctica are studying them to glean new insights into how these habitats form, […]

  • Talking Science with the General Public
    on October 17, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Scientists spent a long weekend in August learning how not to talk like a scientist. Educators from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and the University of Colorado, Boulder trained a class of 32 early career polar scientists on techniques to share their science with the general public. […]