Antarctica Fact File

Quick Antarctic Statistics

Area

13,829,430 km2
5,339,543 miles2

1.4 x bigger than the USA
58 x bigger than the UK
1.8 x bigger than Australia

Ice-free area (0.32% of total)

44,890 km2
17,330 miles2

Largest Ice Shelves

Ross ice shelf:
(about the size of France)
510,680 km2
197,974 miles2


Ronne-Filchner ice shelf:
(about the size of Spain)
439,920 km2
169,850 miles2

Mountains

Transantarctic Mountain chain, length:
3,300 km
2,050 miles


Highest 3 mountains:

Mt. Vinson - 4,892 m / 16,050 ft
(sometimes called "Vinson Massif")
Mt. Tyree - 4,852 m / 15,918 ft
Mt. Shinn - 4,661 m / 15,292 ft

Ice

Antarctica has 70% of all the world's freshwater frozen as ice - and 90% of all the world's ice.

Thickness
Mean
1,829 m / 6,000 ft
Mean thickness East Antarctica:
2,226 m / 7,300 ft
Mean thickness West Antarctica:
1,306 m / 4,285 ft

Maximum ice thickness:
4,776 m / 15,670ft

Lowest point:
Bentley subglacial trench, depth below sea-level
2,496 m / 8,188 ft

Volume
M km3 = Million cubic kilometres

Total:

25.4 M km3 / 6.09 M miles3
Grounded ice sheets
24.7 M km3 / 5.93 M miles3
Ice shelves:
0.7 M km3 / 0.17 M miles3
Peninsula ice:
0.1 M km3 / 0.024 M miles3

Population

About 4,000 on scientific bases in the short summer 1,000 total in winter, around 30,000-40,000 summer tourists - and this place is 1.4 x bigger than the USA! There are NO permanent residents and NEVER has been a native population

Population density = 0.00007 / 0.000028 per km2 winter/summer. World average = 54, Greenland (next lowest) = 0.03

Discovery and Exploration

Antarctica was imagined by the ancient Greeks, but not even seen until 1820.

The first time anyone set foot on Antarctica was in 1821.

The first year-round occupation - overwintering - was in 1898.

The South Pole was first reached in 1911.


Climate

3 factors rule in Antarctica - cold, wind and altitude. Antarctica holds the world record for each of these three things.

The temperature falls as you leave the coast as the continent slopes upwards and temperature falls as you go higher.

Temperature:

Lowest recoded on earth - Vostok station -89.2°C / -128.6°F

Average summer temperature at South Pole -27.5°C / -17.5°F

Average winter temperature at South Pole -60°C / -76°F

Wind:

Mawson station in Antarctica is the windiest place on earth.
Average wind speed:
37 kmh / 23 mph

Maximum recorded gust:
248.4 kmh / 154 mph


Landforms

Antarctica has many landforms - it's a continent! But for the benefit of your geography teacher, here's a few main ones:

glacier
coral reef
#
desert
mountain
plain
plateau
valley
nunatak

# - this is a lie

Further details

Antarctica Environment

Antarctica Politics

Antarctica Science

Antarctica History

Antarctica Animal Life