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Antarctica . Continent. Where is Antarctica?. Antarctica is the fifth largest of the seven continents but it is not an island . It covers the South Pole, most of it is south of the Antarctic Circle at latitude 66° 30' south.

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Where is antarctica

Where is Antarctica?

Antarctica is the fifth largest of the seven continents but it is not an island. It covers the South Pole, most of it is south of the Antarctic Circle at latitude 66° 30' south.

The nearest other land is South America which is 1000 km away, Australia 2500 km away and 4000 km away.It is more than 14,000,000 km2and is about 1.5 times the area of Europe.

Antarctica is a desert. It is the coldest, driest, windiest and highest (on average) continent on earth.

There is an ice sheet that averages 1 mile in thickness, but the dryness is based on an annual rain fall of only 8 inches. The ice contains water, but of course it is frozen and the air itself is extremely dry.  Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia . About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that is about 1.6km in thickness.

Life in antarctica

Life in Antarctica

Antarctica has no native population or permanent residents.

It was truly the first and only continent that was "discovered" in that there weren't any people already living there.

Antarctica was not seen before 1820.

Early explorers and then later on, whalers and sealers were the first people to see Antarctica.

As the 20th century progressed various countries set up permanently manned scientific bases. A mixture of scientists and specialist support staff would spend from a few months to a couple of years before handing over to the next party arriving. This still happens today. There are more bases being opened, some closed down and some literally drifting away as the part of the ice shelf that they were built on, broke off and became an iceberg.

So the answer to the question "Who lives there" is "no-one".

Nature of antartica
Nature of Antartica

  • Antarctica has no trees or bushes at all. There are only about 350 species of vegetation and most of these are lichens, mosses, and algae. In some places bare rocks are covered by red, orange and yellow growths of lichens. Where rock is uncovered by ice for large like dark grass. Three species of flowering plants are also found on the Antarctic Peninsula.

  • There are no vertebrate animals that live on land in Antarctica. All the vertebrates rely on the sea for feeding .

  • The largest truly Antarctic land animals therefore are invertebrates only a few of millimeters in size. These animals, mites, ticks and nematode worms tolerate the low temperatures in the winter by becoming frozen in ice under rocks and stones.

  • The oceans surrounding the continent have great quantities of life. Large numbers of whales feed on the rich marine life, especially krill. Six species of seals and 12 species of birds live and breed in the Antarctic. Crabeater seals are the second most numerous large mammal on the planet after humans and the population of krill has been estimated as outweighing the human population.

  • The most famous inhabitant of Antarctica has to be the penguin. A flightless bird, but excellent swimmer, penguins live on pack ice and in the oceans around Antarctica. They breed on the land or ice surfaces along the coast and on islands. Best known and most typical are the Adelie and emperor penguins.

Why is antarctica a different place from australia
Why is Antarctica a different place from Australia

  • Antarctica it is different from Australia. In Antarctica you have to live in snow and ice and having very long periods of darkness in winter and light in summer. And of course it is very cold and often windy, like the top of a mountain. Living ‘in the field’, away from the main station, you experience this difference very strongly. In the winter Antarctica doubles in size because sea ice forms around the coast.

  • Antarctica is not an island like Australia.

  • Lowest temperature in winter in Antarctica is -89.6 degrees C and in Australia is -23 degrees C

  • Highest temperature in summer in Antarctica is 14.6 degrees C and Australia 50.7 degreesC

  • Antarctica has high cliffs, ice, volcanos and mountains

  • Australia has mountains, bush and dessert

How d o w e use antarctica
How Do We Use Antarctica

  • "Over the next year and a half, Australia plans to build three 300-kilowatt wind turbines at its Mawson research station, the biggest wind power complex ever built on the in the toughest environment on earth."Antarctica is used for fishing, tourism and science (exploring) it is also used for mining for coal. Also the ice is valuable as its 90% of the worlds fresh water. 

Early explorers
Early Explorers

  • The four most important Antarctic explorers were probably RoaldAmundsen, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott, and Richard E. Byrd.

  • In December 1911, the first trip to the South Pole was held. It was held by a Norwegian scientist, He was the first person to make it back all the way to his home.

  • The next explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, and Roald Amundsen were racing to the south pole. Their teams started at different points and got there at different times. The first one to get there was Amundsen, and five weeks later, Scott got there. Scott's team died on there way back to their ship because they were wearing wool instead of heavy down parkas. Amundsen's team wore heavy down parkas and made it back to their homes.

  • In 1911, a British trip was led by Robert Falcon Scott. He reached the South Pole five weeks after Amundsen. Instead of using regular materials, like down parkas and other Antarctic winter equipment, they used wool. Wool is not a very heavy material. When Scott and his crew were leaving and hiking back to their ship, wearing wool, they stopped for a break about a mile from their ship. It was so cold that they froze to death.

  • Another very famous explorer was Richard E. Byrd. He lived from 1868 to 1957. He was the first person to accomplish a flight over Antarctica as an American explorer. 

  • Probably the most famous explorer of them all is Sir Ernest Shackleton. When he went to Antarctica for the first time in 1901-1902 with Robert Falcon Scott almost no one had gone there before. He made another trip to Antarctica in 1907-1909.

  • In 1914, he organized a third trip to Antarctica. His ship was called the Endurance. It got stuck in the ice in 1915, which forced Shackleton and his crew to abandon the ship. Finally, he organized three teams to go in the three rowboats. In order to rescue his crew, Shackleton rowed 800 miles to South Georgia Island and got help there. He managed to get every person on his crew back safely to England.

Australia s involvement in antartica
Australia's involvement in Antartica

  • Australia has a long history of involvement in Antarctica. In the18th century Australia depended on the sea for its trade and communications. Due to how close the vast expanse of ice to the south was it was inevitable that Australia became closely involved in Antarctic exploration.

  • associated with sealing and whaling industries. As Australian waters became exhausted, sealers and whalers turned to the subantarctic islands. By 1820, just 10 years after the discovery of Macquarie Island, fur seals had been virtually exterminated and elephant seals were being slaughtered for their oil.

  • Many explorers bound for the Antarctic visited Australia for supplies for their southern journeys. The use of Hobart as a port of call for most of these expeditions and its support for the southern sealing and whaling industries fostered Australian interest in Antarctica.

What groups of people visit antarctica
What Groups Of People Visit Antarctica

  • Scientists and university students doing researchThe only people who visit or work on Antarctica are scientists and people like that. Actually, many people visit Antarctica to see and learn about the ecology of the continent. Cruise ships also visit and they may put limits so that no ships with a capacity of more than 500 people, and no more than 100 people on the continent at one time from any given ship. A guide would be required to be with smaller groups of 20 people.

What can we find in antarctica
What Can We Find In Antarctica

  • Penguins, terns, leopard seals, hooded seals, orcas, several species of baleen whales. About 20 percent of visitors to the frozen continent bring stowaway seeds on their clothing and luggage, according to a new study. The research highlights the potential risk to Antarctica's indigenous species, but also the impressive travelling abilities of plants.

  • The team found 2,686 seeds on these people, a group that included both scientists and tourists. Scientists were by far worse offenders, bringing twice as many seeds as individual tourists, but tourists still greatly outnumber science-related visitors.

Special environmental qualities of antarctica
Special environmental qualities of Antarctica

  • Considerations of impact on the Antarctic environment need to come to terms with problems of scale. There are the huge of the Antarctic ice sheet and the Southern Ocean which can absorb the impacts of human activities. On the other hand, there are small, coastal, ice-free areas, homes of birds, seals, plants and other forms of life down to the microscopic, where the impact of human activities can be considerable.

  • The Protocol on Environmental Protection was drafted.

  • The Protocol was adopted in Madrid on 4 October 1991 and started on 14 January 1998.

What are the threats to the environment
What are the threats to the environment?

  • Human impact is the greatest threat to Antarctica. Many of the Antarctic species have been brought close to extinction because of human impact, in the form of pollution from sewage and other contaminants, and general interference. Scientific research can also pose a threat if it is not undertaken with strict controls.

  • There is also a push from some quarters to drill for oil or mine for a variety of minerals and metals in the region. Historical evidence shows that oil and mining are both especially risky for the environment. At this stage, these activities are banned under the Antarctic treaty, and there are no plans to change this. Global warming is threat to the entire Earth. Whether global warming is the result of man's activities or part of the natural cycle of the Earth, it is still a threat to the Antarctic ice shelves.

How are people trying to protect antarctica
How are people trying to protect Antarctica?

  • Over the years since the Antarctic Treaty came into force.

  • All plants and animals in Antarctica are now protected and there are measures in place to prevent pollution of this - the worlds most pristine environment.

  • There are many resolutions and measures for the protection of Antarctica and its fauna (animals) and flora (plants). In brief they state that:

  • No Antarctic bird or mammal can be killed or captured without a permit .

  • The establishment of specially protected areas to protect sites of outstanding scientific interest and designate specially protected species.The discharge into the sea within the Antarctic Treaty Area of all toxic and noxious chemicals, oil and oily wastes, plastics and other forms of non-biodegradable rubbish, is prohibited.

  • Mining has been prohibitedPermits for Travelling to Antarctica

Antartic eco system


Antarctic animals all make their living in the ocean, because the land is too cold, dry, and dark for plants and animals. Antarctica's coastal seas are especially important because they shelter an abundant ecosystem, supporting large predators such as penguins, seals and whales.

Because of the earth's tilt and orbit around the sun, the poles receive less energy and heat from the sun. This results in only two polar two seasons—summer and winter. In summer at the poles, the sun does not set, and in winter the sun does not rise.

 in the ocean around Antarctica during the southern hemisphere summer season. The days will be very long, with the sun below the horizon for only a few hours a day, and the sky will not become completely dark at night.

 Ice forms in winter over much of the sea around Antarctica, and rapidly retreats in the spring when the ice melts. Summer is a season of long days and slightly warmer temperatures whenphytoplankton can grow rapidly and produce food for the entire ecosystem. High winds blowing from the continent mix the seawater, bringing high levels of nutrients necessary for phytoplankton growth near the sea surface, where there is sunlight.

What are the threats to this environment
What Are The Threats To This Environment

  • When the original Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959, the exploitation of resources was not discussed at all for fear of jeopardizing the Treaty. In the 1980's the issues were raised again, and led eventually to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (an addition to the treaty).

  • The Madrid Protocol was signed in 1991 by the signatories to the Antarctic Treaty banning mining, this is up for review in 2041.

  • The Madrid Protocol became law in January 1998, it sets out the principles under which environmental protection in Antarctica is to be regulated.

  • Antarctica's weather, ice and distance from any industrialized areas mean that mineral extraction would be extremely expensive and also extremely dangerous. The icebergs that drift around the continent frequently grind into the ocean floor like billion (or trillion) tonne ploughs. Pack ice can be blown miles in a day and transportation even in the relatively ice-free summer months is far from assured.

  • Any oil or minerals would need to shipped or piped out and then there's the problem of those vast icebergs again.


  • Antarctica has six months of daylight and six months of darkness. The earth revolves around the sun and tilts on it's axis. During the winter, Antarctica is tilted away from the sun, causing it to be dark. For the half of the year that is summer, Antarctica is facing the sun and getting more of its direct rays. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica was -129ºF. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica was 59ºF. The average summer temperature is 20ºF. The average winter temperature is -30ºF.

  • The highest wind speed ever in Antarctica was when the wind was moving at five meters per second. The wind is an important factor in making Antarctica cold. The wind can lower the temperatures of Antarctica by at least ten degrees.

  • The Antarctic is colder than the North Pole because it warms up faster and it cools down faster. Antarctica gets warmer faster than the Arctic because the Ocean water carries heat from the equator to the poles. The land of Antarctica heats up faster than the waters of the Arctic.

How have we discovered information about antarctica
How Have We Discovered Information About Antarctica

  • Early explorers and then later on, whalers and sealers, were literally the first people to discover Antarctica.

  • Today many countries have set up permanent manned scientific bases.

Impact of climate change
Impact of climate change

  • Recent climate change has driven significant changes in the physical and living environment of the Antarctic.

  • Environmental change is most apparent in the Antarctic Peninsula, where climate change has been largest. Adélie penguins, a species well adapted to sea ice conditions, have declined in numbers and been replaced by open-water species such as chinstrap penguins.

  • Melting of snow and ice covers has resulted in increased colonisation by plants. A long-term decline in the abundance of Antarctic krill in the SW Atlantic sector of the southern ocean may be associated with reduced sea ice cover.

  • Large changes have occurred in the ice cover of the Peninsula. Many glaciers and ice shelves have retreated.

  • The Antarctic Peninsula is contributing to sea-level rise, at about the same rate as Alaska Glaciers.