Geography

8 surprising interesting facts about Antarctica that you should know

8 surprising interesting facts about Antarctica that you should know
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Antarctica is an enigmatic and bewildering land. Of the seven continents, it represents the least explored and least hospitable land. We recommend your attention to 8 surprising interesting facts about Antarctica.

The size of Antarctica is constantly changing

In Antarctica, the sea ice layer is shrinking in some places and expanding in others. One of the reasons for this is the wind. When it blows for a long time, for example, from the north, the land begins to expand toward the south. These annual fluctuations are seasonal. The earth’s surface alone is about 12 million square kilometers, and the ice girdling it adds an extra few kilometers in circumference – up to 8 in winter!

An excellent place to search for meteorites

Antarctica is an ideal place to collect meteorites. In any other place, the dark lumps reaching us from space mix with the earth and become invisible. In Antarctica, space debris creates a stark contrast with the ice and snow, which is why they are so easy to find here.

An ideal place for extreme tourism enthusiasts

In Antarctica you can conquer the South Pole, trace the routes of the continent’s early explorers, dive along icebergs, see penguins or go to one of the scientific research stations. You can do all this on the Antarctic Peninsula, where the climate is relatively mild compared to the rest of the continent.

Antarctica has a lot in common with the Sahara Desert

Antarctica is a true polar desert, the highest, windiest and driest land. What evokes the similarity with the Sahara? First of all, the bare minimum of life and extremely low average rainfall. It is cold enough here that rains are non-existent. Some regions record less than 30 ml of rainfall per year.

Bloody waterfall

A stream of water of saturated red color, leaking from the Taylor Glacier at Lake Bonney, is referred to by researchers as the Bloody Waterfall. The unusual color of the waterfall is due to the high content of iron oxide in the water. The source of the water is a lake covered with a 400-meter layer of ice, several kilometers away from the waterfall itself.

Antarctica is inhabited by many species of animals

Penguins, seals, sea lions, giant whales, squid and jawfish are just a fraction of the animals that thrive in the harsh Antarctic conditions. The land is also inhabited by many species of birds: stormtroopers, otters, albatrosses. The latter pose considerable problems for members of scientific expeditions: they attack people and steal food left unattended.

Once a tropical jungle

Although it is hard to believe, 50 million years ago Antarctica lay in tropical latitudes. During various expeditions, scientists have found the fossilized remains of trees and plants that grow in New Zealand today. Little, there is evidence that African baobabs once grew in the ice desert!

Extreme marathons

The lack of permanent residents is not an obstacle to organizing athletic competitions in Antarctica. The Ellsworth base has been hosting unique marathons since 2004. Participants arrive by private plane from South America to a place where the average temperature is – 12 to – 17°С and the wind blows at 5 to 12 m/s. And that’s just a fraction of the obstacles athletes encounter on their way. Oh, and more: the marathon takes place at an altitude of about 1,000 meters above sea level.

main photo: unsplash.com/Cassie Matias

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