If Antarctica's ice sheets melted, the worlds oceans would
rise by 60 to 65 meters (200 - 210ft) - everywhere.
Antarctica is pushed into the earth by the weight of its
ice sheets If they melted, it would "spring back"
about 500m (1 625 ft). It would do this v...e...r...y
s...l...o...w...l...y taking about 10,000 years to do
Scotland and Scandinavia are still rebounding
today after the last ice age - at the rate of half a meter
a century in the Northern Baltic - the fastest place.
Antarctica is the best place in the world to find meteorites.
Dark meteorites show up against the white expanse of
ice and snow and don't get covered by vegetation. In some
places, the way the ice flows concentrates meteorites there.
The ice makes them gather in one place.
4/ The cold
and dry conditions in the "Dry Valleys"
region of Antarctica are so close to those on Mars that
NASA did testing there for the Viking mission.
5/ One of
icebergs ever (possibly the biggest iceberg ever)
broke free from the Ross ice shelf in Antarctica in 2000.
It was 295km (183 miles) long and 37km (23 miles) wide,
with a surface area of 11,000 sq km (4,250 square miles)
above water - and 10 times bigger below. It's
similar in size to The Gambia, Qatar, The Bahamas, or Connecticut.
6/ It has been estimated
that during the feeding season in Antarctica, a full grown
blue whale eats about 4 million
krill per day (krill
are small shrimp-like creatures), that's 3600 kg or 4 tons
- every day for 6 months. Having laid down a layer of fat
from this feeding activity in Antarctica, they then starve
for several months.
This daily intake would feed a human for about 4 years!
If you could stomach it. Krill may be nutritious but they're
not very nice as people food - which is lucky for the whales!
7/ Since the
Antarctic convergence arose about 20 million
years ago, there has been very little exchange of fish or
other marine life in either direction. This means that fish
have lived in their side of the ocean and have not crossed
over to their neighbours side.
Antarctic fish have lived
at between +2°C and -2°C for 5 million
years (-2°C is the freezing point of sea water,
below zero because of the salt). They are therefore the
best cold adapted animals that there are on the planet -
now or ever.
8/ A domestic deep
freeze runs at about -20°C. The mean summer temperature
on the great East Antarctica icecap is -30°C and
mean winter temperature around -60°C. That's
a lot colder than your freezer!
The lowest ever temperature
recorded was at the Russian Vostok station. It was -
9/ When the
Antarctic sea-ice begins to expand at the beginning
of winter, it advances by around 40,000 square miles (100,000
square kilometres) per day, and eventually doubles
the size of Antarctica, adding up to an extra 20 million
square kilometres of ice around the land mass.
That's one and a half USA's, two Australia's or 50 UK's
worth of ice area that forms, then breaks up and melts each
10/ Snow falling at
the South Pole takes about 100 000 years to
to the coast of Antarctica before it drops off the end
as part of an iceberg.
11/ The Antarctic
ice cap has 29 million cubic kilometres of ice. This
is 90% of all the ice on the planet and between 60 and 70
% of all of the world's fresh water.
Only about 0.4 percent of Antarctica is not covered by
12/ Antarctica has
a peculiar group of fish called the ice fish. These
have no red pigment - haemoglobin - in their blood to carry
oxygen around. They get by perfectly well without it because
the temperature is so low and oxygen dissolves better in
cold temperatures. They just have a larger volume of clear
blood instead and this gives them an unusually ghostly
white colour, particularly their gills.
on the ice fish ahs shown that their DNA has been damaged
by high levels of ultra violet light coming from the ozone
hole. They have less pigment to stop the UV getting through.
Many other Antarctic sea creatures including fish have
antifreeze in their blood so they don't accidentally
get frozen solid!
largest land animal in Antarctica is an insect, a wingless
midge, Belgica antarctica, less than 1.3cm (0.5in)
long. There are no flying insects (they'd get blown away),
just shiny black springtails that hop like fleas and tend
to live among penguin colonies.
Samples of ice known as ice cores are regularly drilled
through the ice in Antarctica by scientists. They are removed
as a long cylinder of ice that gives an indication of the
past going back tens of thousands of years. The properties
of the ice, of dust trapped in the ice, and even of air
bubbles trapped in the ice give valuable information about
the earth's climate at various times in the past.
could easily give you a drink of water that was frozen during
the life of Christ.
a swarm of krill was tracked
by US scientists that was estimated at being up to 10
million tonnes of krill! This is the equivalent of about
143 million people (at an average of 70kg each) or more
than the entire populations of the UK and Germany combined
( and wandering around in a group!)
16/ Antarctica is
the only continent with no indigenous species of ants.