Antarctica Project - Fact File and
Antarctica - Fact File - Quick Reference
Antarctica is located in the Antarctic circle,
which is an imaginary mapping line at latitude 66 32' south.
It is the area around, and including, the South Pole.
The area of Antarctica
is actually 14 million sq km.
The winter ice increases its area
to 20 - 21 million sq km.
Inland temperature averages tend
to be lower than coastal temperatures.
In winter (May - August) inland temperatures range between
-40 to -70 degrees Celsius.
Coastal temperatures range between -15 to -30 degrees Celsius.
In summer ((December - February) temperatures range between-15
to -35 degrees Celsius. Sub-Antarctic islands may reach
10 degrees Celsius. These are islands which are within the
The first base to be built was Mawson base which was built
by the Australians and opened 1954. Other countries which
have built bases in Antarctica include USA, Russia, New
Zealand, UK and Germany.
There are over 40 permanent scientific bases and 100
research stations on Antarctica.
Researchers from different countries
usually work together on many research projects. Antarctica
is a very harsh place, and they depend on each other for
support and knowledge.
The research projects usually focus on studying the different
and interesting wildlife. The hole in the ozone layer is
also a research focus at the moment, and scientists are
working together to find out as much as possible about this
The only land animal that exists on Antarctica is the
tiny wingless midge. It is about 12mm long (1.2cm) and it
looks a bit like a fly.
It is too cold for anything else
to live on Antarctica permanently. The birds and other marine
animals that come to the Antarctic continent do not spend
their whole life there and are not considered land animals.
Although there are not many animals on land, there are
however plenty in the sea.
The animals which live in the
sea have special adaptations that make them strong enough
to withstand the extremely cold temperatures of the Antarctic
Krill- this is probably the most important sea animal
in Antarctica. They look like tiny prawns. Krill form the
basis of the Antarctic food chain because they are the main
food source of many animals in Antarctica. Baleen whales,
which are whales that have no teeth, especially depend on
them for food.
Squid- are a food source for larger
There are only two flowering plants which exist in Antarctica.
These are called the Antarctic spearwort and Antarctic hair
Other than these only bacteria, algae, fungi, mosses and
lichens exist in Antarctica. Microscopic plants also exist
under or in rocks, which offer some protection from the
Brief Exploration History
1773- James Cook sailed across the Antarctic circle.
1895 - Henryk Bull was the first to land on the Antarctic
1902 - Robert Scott, Edward Wilson and Ernest Shackleton
made the first unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole.
1909- Mawson, David and McKay reached the Magnetic South
1911- December 14, Roald Amundsen's party reached
the South Pole.
1912- January 18, Scott's party reached
the South Pole to find that Amundsen's team had beaten them
by about one month.
March 1912- Scott's entire party died on the way back
from the South Pole.
1929 - Richard Byrd flew over the South Pole.
1959 - Antarctica Treaty was signed.
1982- CCAMLR was established.
1994- Antarctic waters are declared a whale reserve
to limit whaling and help preserve whale numbers.
Nations which have claimed territories
There are some countries which have already made a territorial
claim in Antarctica.
These are Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, France,
Norway and the United Kingdom. The USA and Russia have not
made any claims but they have reserved that right, even
though they have research bases there.
A glacier is a large mass of ice which moves
slowly down a mountain. Sometimes these are also called
ice rivers. The main glaciers are Lambert, Mellop, Byrd,
Farrar, Slessor, Recovery, Hatherton, Filchner, Ronne, Mulock,
Nimrod, Beardmore, Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen.
The longest glacier is Lambert which is 400km long.
Main ice shelves
An ice shelf is a floating
sheet of ice which has left the land and is now floating,
but is still attached to ice on the land from where it came.
The main ice shelves are Amery, Ross,
George VI, Ekstrom, Filchner and Ronne.
The main Antarctic seas are Weddell, Ross
and Bellinghausen. These were named after early Antarctic
Ice - sounds
unusual, but ice is noted as Antarctica's most abundant
resource. The ice is so pure that it can be melted down
to make fresh water.
Coal - there
is evidence of large coal deposits along the coast of Antarctica
and through the Transantarctic Mountains.
- there has been no petroleum exploration on Antarctica.
Geologists are only suggesting that there may be any petroleum
deposits because they found petroleum in other places which
look similar to Antarctica.
- scientists have discovered minerals such
as copper, cobalt, iron and nickel in Antarctica.
Problems with Resource Exploration
- not many people are interested in mining for resources
in Antarctica because the conditions are so harsh and the
ice is so thick that it would cost too much money. Also,
the work season is very short in Antarctica because the
only time that workers could do anything would be in summer.
This is because in winter there is very little daylight.
Whales - there
is a variety of whale species which migrate to Antarctica
for the summer. These species include Blue whales, Minke
whales, Killer whales (Orcas), Fin whales, Right whales,
Southern Bottlenose whales, Humpback whales and Sei whales.
The blue whale can grow to a length of over 30 metres long.
It is the largest mammal in existence. It's much bigger
than an elephant and only eats krill. Can you imagine how
much krill they would need for just one meal?
Seals - there
are plenty of seals in the oceans surrounding Antarctica.
They spend a lot of time in the water and nest on the coast.
They eat krill, squid and fish.
The types of seals found in Antarctica are
Fur seals, Crabeater seals, Weddell, Leopard Seals, Ross
Seals and Elephant seals.
- there are lots of penguins on Antarctica. The most common
type of penguin in Antarctica is the chinstrap penguin.
Other types include Gentoo penguins, Macaroni penguins,
rockhopper penguins, King penguins, Adelie penguins and
Birds - there
are more than 40 types of birds which spend summer in Antarctica.
These include petrels, albatrosses and skuas.
Looking after Antarctica
When people began showing an interest in
Antarctica, scientists and other environmentalists realised
that something would have to be done to protect Antarctica
from being exploited and spoiled.
In 1959 the Antarctica Treaty which was developed by the
united nations and the help of 12 other countries was signed.
The 12 countries were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile,
France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Russia,
the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Other countries joined later on. The main aims of the Antarctica
Treaty is to make sure that countries only use Antarctica
for peaceful purposes and no military bases are set up.
Another organisation which was specially established to
look after Antarctica was the Convention on the Conservation
of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which was
created in 1982 to make sure that Antarctica's marine life
is protected and over-exploitation does not happen. Over-exploitation
is when some animals are hunted to the point where they
Other environmental organisations which have been looking
after Antarctica include Sea Shepherd, and Greenpeace.
Ice and snow cover about 98% of Antarctica.
The average thickness of ice and snow over the Antarctic
continent is about 2 200 metres deep.
Antarctica's icecap makes up about 70% of the world's fresh
If the icecaps were melted the oceans levels would rise
to such an extent that the coastal cities around the world
would all flood.
In winter there are 6 weeks of complete darkness.
In summer there is continuous daylight, 24 hours a day!
There is a geographic South Pole which is stable.
Antarctica has an active volcano called Mount Erebus!
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