Some Interesting Facts about Antarctica
By Robert Smith
Here are a few interesting facts about Antarctica, the Earth's
southernmost continent. Unlike the Arctic region, where the North
Pole is located, which includes parts of Canada, Greenland, Russia
and other countries, the continent of Antarctica belongs to no
country and has no government, although territorial division
among several nations has been and continues to be considered.
It is the coldest part of the world, with temperatures in
the winter (July through September) reaching -80 to -90 degrees
Celsius. During the summer months of December, January, February
and March, the coastal regions can be as warm as 15 degrees Celsius
or 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
The continent is a desert with less than four inches of precipitation
per year, although snowfall of 48 inches (four feet) in 48 hours
has been recorded in coastal areas. There are glaciers and ice
fields in the center of the continent due to the cold temperatures
and high altitudes. The continent is surrounded by icebergs,
which in the 1920s were bigger than ships, but today have shrunk,
due to CO2 emissions and global warming.
Technically, no one lives there, but research stations provide
facts about Antarctica. The number of researchers on the continent
is approximately 1000 during the winter. During the summer, there
may be as many as 5000 researchers from Russia, the US and 25
Thanks to them, we know that there are coal, copper, chromium,
nickel, gold and other mineral deposits in Antarctica, but the
quantities are small and the 1991 "Protocol on Environmental
Protection to the Antarctic Treaty", along with amendments
made in 1998, bans mining and other activities that could damage
the delicate ecosystem.
There are many offshore fishermen from South America, New
Zealand and Australia, but they rarely come to shore. Many tourists
visit the area each summer as well. It is a large continent that
could, were it not for the climate, support a huge human population,
but currently, the land belongs to the penguins and seals.
Geology and Topography
Facts about Antarctica, such as highest mountain, largest
lake and other geological and topographical information that
is applicable to most areas of the world have been difficult
to attain, due to the thick layer of ice that covers the majority
of the central continent.
New techniques, such as remote sensing, satellite imagery
and ground-penetrating radar have revealed some of the structures
that reside beneath the ice. A mountain range, similar to the
Andes, is found in West Antarctica. A volcano that erupted some
2200 years ago has been identified.
The Hole in the Ozone
Every year researchers provide more facts about Antarctica.
Since the 1970s, they have focused primarily on the hole in the
ozone caused by chlorofluorocarbons. It was the largest ever
in 1998 (10 million square miles), but it is growing smaller.
It is believed that it will continue to grow smaller and eventually
close within the next 50 years.
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