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Antarctica
Antarctica
(UK English /ænˈtɑːktɪkə/ or /ænˈtɑːtɪkə/, US English /æntˈɑːrktɪkə/ ( listen))[note 1] is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole
South Pole
and is situated in the Antarctic
Antarctic
region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic
Antarctic
Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,000,000 square kilometres (5,400,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent. For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica
Antarctica
is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km (1.2 mi; 6,200 ft) in thickness,[5] which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.[6] Antarctica
Antarctica
is a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 in) along the coast and far less inland.[7] The temperature in Antarctica
Antarctica
has reached −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) (or even −94.7 as measured from space[8]), though the average for the third quarter (the coldest part of the year) is −63 °C (−81 °F). Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at research stations scattered across the continent. Organisms native to Antarctica
Antarctica
include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Vegetation, where it occurs, is tundra. Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis
Terra Australis
("Southern Land") date back to antiquity, Antarctica
Antarctica
is noted as the last region on Earth
Earth
in recorded history to be discovered, unseen until 1820 when the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen
and Mikhail Lazarev
Mikhail Lazarev
on Vostok and Mirny sighted the Fimbul ice shelf. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of easily accessible resources, and isolation. In 1895, the first confirmed landing was conducted by a team of Norwegians. Antarctica
Antarctica
is a de facto condominium, governed by parties to the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty System that have consulting status. Twelve countries signed the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty in 1959, and thirty-eight have signed it since then. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History of exploration 3 Geography 4 Geology

4.1 Geological history and palaeontology

4.1.1 Palaeozoic era (540–250 Ma) 4.1.2 Mesozoic
Mesozoic
era (250–66 Ma) 4.1.3 Gondwana
Gondwana
breakup (160–23 Ma) 4.1.4 Neogene Period (23–0.05 Ma) 4.1.5 Meyer Desert
Desert
Formation biota

4.2 Present-day

5 Climate 6 Population 7 Biodiversity

7.1 Animals 7.2 Fungi 7.3 Plants 7.4 Other organisms 7.5 Conservation

8 Politics

8.1 Antarctic
Antarctic
territories

9 Economy 10 Research

10.1 Meteorites

11 Ice
Ice
mass and global sea level 12 Effects of global warming 13 Ozone
Ozone
depletion 14 See also 15 Notes 16 References 17 External links

Etymology

Adelie penguins
Adelie penguins
in Antarctica

The name Antarctica
Antarctica
is the romanised version of the Greek compound word ἀνταρκτική (antarktiké), feminine of ἀνταρκτικός (antarktikós),[9] meaning "opposite to the Arctic", "opposite to the north".[10] Aristotle
Aristotle
wrote in his book Meteorology
Meteorology
about an Antarctic
Antarctic
region in c. 350 B.C.[11] Marinus of Tyre reportedly used the name in his unpreserved world map from the 2nd century A.D. The Roman authors Hyginus and Apuleius
Apuleius
(1–2 centuries A.D.) used for the South Pole the romanised Greek name polus antarcticus,[12][13] from which derived the Old French
Old French
pole antartike (modern pôle antarctique) attested in 1270, and from there the Middle English
Middle English
pol antartik in a 1391 technical treatise by Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
(modern Antarctic
Antarctic
Pole).[14] Before acquiring its present geographical connotations, the term was used for other locations that could be defined as "opposite to the north". For example, the short-lived French colony established in Brazil
Brazil
in the 16th century was called " France
France
Antarctique". The first formal use of the name "Antarctica" as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew.[15] History of exploration Main article: History of Antarctica See also: List of Antarctic
Antarctic
expeditions and Women in Antarctica Antarctica
Antarctica
has no indigenous population and there is no evidence that it was seen by humans until the 19th century. However, belief in the existence of a Terra Australis—a vast continent in the far south of the globe to "balance" the northern lands of Europe, Asia
Asia
and North Africa—had existed since the times of Ptolemy
Ptolemy
(1st century AD), who suggested the idea to preserve the symmetry of all known landmasses in the world. Even in the late 17th century, after explorers had found that South America
South America
and Australia
Australia
were not part of the fabled "Antarctica", geographers believed that the continent was much larger than its actual size.

Painting of James Weddell's second expedition in 1823, depicting the brig Jane and the cutter Beaufroy

Integral to the story of the origin of the name "Antarctica" is how it was not named Terra Australis—this name was given to Australia instead, and it was because of a mistake made by people who decided that a significant landmass would not be found farther south than Australia. Explorer
Explorer
Matthew Flinders, in particular, has been credited with popularising the transfer of the name Terra Australis
Terra Australis
to Australia. He justified the titling of his book A Voyage to Terra Australis (1814) by writing in the introduction:

There is no probability, that any other detached body of land, of nearly equal extent, will ever be found in a more southern latitude; the name Terra Australis
Terra Australis
will, therefore, remain descriptive of the geographical importance of this country and of its situation on the globe: it has antiquity to recommend it; and, having no reference to either of the two claiming nations, appears to be less objectionable than any other which could have been selected.[16]

The First Russian Antarctic
Antarctic
expedition 1819–1821.

European maps continued to show this hypothesised land until Captain James Cook's ships, HMS Resolution and Adventure, crossed the Antarctic
Antarctic
Circle on 17 January 1773, in December 1773 and again in January 1774.[17] Cook came within about 120 km (75 mi) of the Antarctic
Antarctic
coast before retreating in the face of field ice in January 1773.[18] The first confirmed sighting of Antarctica
Antarctica
can be narrowed down to the crews of ships captained by three individuals. According to various organisations (the National Science Foundation,[19] NASA,[20] the University of California, San Diego,[21] Russian State Museum of the Arctic
Arctic
and Antarctic,[22] among others),[23][24] ships captained by three men sighted Antarctica
Antarctica
or its ice shelf in 1820: von Bellingshausen (a captain in the Imperial Russian Navy), Edward Bransfield
Edward Bransfield
(a captain in the Royal Navy), and Nathaniel Palmer
Nathaniel Palmer
(a sealer out of Stonington, Connecticut). The First Russian Antarctic
Antarctic
expedition led by Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev
Mikhail Lazarev
on the 985-ton sloop-of-war Vostok ("East") and the 530-ton support vessel Mirny ("Peaceful") reached a point within 32 km (20 mi) from Queen Maud's Land
Queen Maud's Land
and recorded the sight of an ice shelf at 69°21′28″S 2°14′50″W / 69.35778°S 2.24722°W / -69.35778; -2.24722,[25] on 27 January,[26] which became known as the Fimbul ice shelf. This happened three days before Bransfield sighted land, and ten months before Palmer did so in November 1820. The first documented landing on Antarctica
Antarctica
was by the American sealer John Davis, apparently at Hughes Bay, near Cape Charles, in West Antarctica
West Antarctica
on 7 February 1821, although some historians dispute this claim.[27][28] The first recorded and confirmed landing was at Cape Adair in 1895.[29]

Nimrod Expedition
Nimrod Expedition
South Pole
South Pole
Party (left to right): Wild, Shackleton, Marshall and Adams

Roald Amundsen
Roald Amundsen
and his crew looking at the Norwegian flag at the South Pole, 1911

Dumont d'Urville Station, an example of modern human settlement in Antarctica

On 22 January 1840, two days after the discovery of the coast west of the Balleny Islands, some members of the crew of the 1837–40 expedition of Jules Dumont d'Urville
Jules Dumont d'Urville
disembarked on the highest islet[30] of a group of rocky islands about 4 km from Cape Géodésie on the coast of Adélie Land
Adélie Land
where they took some mineral, algae and animal samples.[31] In December 1839, as part of the United States Exploring Expedition
United States Exploring Expedition
of 1838–42 conducted by the United States Navy
United States Navy
(sometimes called the "Ex. Ex.", or "the Wilkes Expedition"), an expedition sailed from Sydney, Australia, into the Antarctic
Antarctic
Ocean, as it was then known, and reported the discovery "of an Antarctic
Antarctic
continent west of the Balleny Islands" on 25 January 1840. That part of Antarctica
Antarctica
was later named "Wilkes Land", a name it retains to this day. Explorer
Explorer
James Clark Ross
James Clark Ross
passed through what is now known as the Ross Sea and discovered Ross Island
Ross Island
(both of which were named after him) in 1841. He sailed along a huge wall of ice that was later named the Ross Ice
Ice
Shelf. Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
and Mount Terror are named after two ships from his expedition: HMS Erebus and Terror.[32] Mercator Cooper
Mercator Cooper
landed in East Antarctica
East Antarctica
on 26 January 1853.[33] During the Nimrod Expedition
Nimrod Expedition
led by Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton
in 1907, parties led by Edgeworth David
Edgeworth David
became the first to climb Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
and to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Douglas Mawson, who assumed the leadership of the Magnetic Pole party on their perilous return, went on to lead several expeditions until retiring in 1931.[34] In addition, Shackleton himself and three other members of his expedition made several firsts in December 1908 – February 1909: they were the first humans to traverse the Ross Ice
Ice
Shelf, the first to traverse the Transantarctic Mountains
Transantarctic Mountains
(via the Beardmore Glacier), and the first to set foot on the South Polar Plateau. An expedition led by Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen
Roald Amundsen
from the ship Fram
Fram
became the first to reach the geographic South Pole
South Pole
on 14 December 1911, using a route from the Bay of Whales
Bay of Whales
and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier.[35] One month later, the doomed Scott Expedition reached the pole. Richard E. Byrd
Richard E. Byrd
led several voyages to the Antarctic
Antarctic
by plane in the 1930s and 1940s. He is credited with implementing mechanised land transport on the continent and conducting extensive geological and biological research.[36] The first women to set foot on Antarctica
Antarctica
did so in the 1930s with Caroline Mikkelsen landing on an island of Antarctica
Antarctica
in 1935,[37] and Ingrid Christensen
Ingrid Christensen
stepping onto the mainland in 1937.[38][39][40] It was not until 31 October 1956 that anyone set foot on the South Pole again; on that day a U.S. Navy group led by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek successfully landed an aircraft there.[41] The first women to step onto the South Pole
South Pole
were Pam Young, Jean Pearson, Lois Jones, Eileen McSaveney, Kay Lindsay and Terry Tickhill in 1969.[42] The first person to sail single-handed to Antarctica
Antarctica
was the New Zealander David Henry Lewis, in 1972, in the 10-metre steel sloop Ice Bird.

Geography Main article: Geography of Antarctica See also: Extreme points of Antarctica and List of Antarctic
Antarctic
and subantarctic islands

Labeled map of Antarctica

Positioned asymmetrically around the South Pole
South Pole
and largely south of the Antarctic
Antarctic
Circle, Antarctica
Antarctica
is the southernmost continent and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean; alternatively, it may be considered to be surrounded by the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, or by the southern waters of the World
World
Ocean. There are a number of rivers and lakes in Antarctica, the longest river being the Onyx. The largest lake, Vostok, is one of the largest sub-glacial lakes in the world. Antarctica
Antarctica
covers more than 14 million km2 (5,400,000 sq mi),[1] making it the fifth-largest continent, about 1.3 times as large as Europe. The coastline measures 17,968 km (11,165 mi)[1] and is mostly characterised by ice formations, as the following table shows:

Coastal types around Antarctica[43]

Type Frequency

Ice
Ice
shelf (floating ice front) 44%

Ice
Ice
walls (resting on ground) 38%

Ice
Ice
stream/outlet glacier (ice front or ice wall) 13%

Rock 5%

Total 100%

Antarctica
Antarctica
is divided in two by the Transantarctic Mountains
Transantarctic Mountains
close to the neck between the Ross Sea
Ross Sea
and the Weddell Sea. The portion west of the Weddell Sea
Weddell Sea
and east of the Ross Sea
Ross Sea
is called West Antarctica
West Antarctica
and the remainder East Antarctica, because they roughly correspond to the Western and Eastern Hemispheres relative to the Greenwich meridian.

Elevation
Elevation
coloured by relief height

About 98% of Antarctica
Antarctica
is covered by the Antarctic
Antarctic
ice sheet, a sheet of ice averaging at least 1.6 km (1.0 mi) thick. The continent has about 90% of the world's ice (and thereby about 70% of the world's fresh water). If all of this ice were melted, sea levels would rise about 60 m (200 ft).[44] In most of the interior of the continent, precipitation is very low, down to 20 mm (0.8 in) per year; in a few "blue ice" areas precipitation is lower than mass loss by sublimation and so the local mass balance is negative. In the dry valleys, the same effect occurs over a rock base, leading to a desiccated landscape. West Antarctica
West Antarctica
is covered by the West Antarctic
Antarctic
Ice
Ice
Sheet. The sheet has been of recent concern because of the real, if small, possibility of its collapse. If the sheet were to break down, ocean levels would rise by several metres in a relatively geologically short period of time, perhaps a matter of centuries. Several Antarctic
Antarctic
ice streams, which account for about 10% of the ice sheet, flow to one of the many Antarctic
Antarctic
ice shelves: see ice-sheet dynamics. East Antarctica
East Antarctica
lies on the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
side of the Transantarctic Mountains and comprises Coats Land, Queen Maud Land, Enderby Land, Mac. Robertson Land, Wilkes Land, and Victoria Land. All but a small portion of this region lies within the Eastern Hemisphere. East Antarctica
Antarctica
is largely covered by the East Antarctic
Antarctic
Ice
Ice
Sheet.

Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Ross Island

Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica
Antarctica
at 4,892 m (16,050 ft), is located in the Ellsworth Mountains. Antarctica contains many other mountains, on both the main continent and the surrounding islands. Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus
on Ross Island
Ross Island
is the world's southernmost active volcano. Another well-known volcano is found on Deception Island, which is famous for a giant eruption in 1970. Minor eruptions are frequent and lava flow has been observed in recent years. Other dormant volcanoes may potentially be active.[45] In 2004, a potentially active underwater volcano was found in the Antarctic Peninsula by American and Canadian researchers.[46] Antarctica
Antarctica
is home to more than 70 lakes that lie at the base of the continental ice sheet. Lake Vostok, discovered beneath Russia's Vostok Station in 1996, is the largest of these subglacial lakes. It was once believed that the lake had been sealed off for 500,000 to one million years but a recent survey suggests that, every so often, there are large flows of water from one lake to another.[47] There is some evidence, in the form of ice cores drilled to about 400 m (1,300 ft) above the water line, that Lake Vostok's waters may contain microbial life. The frozen surface of the lake shares similarities with Jupiter's moon, Europa. If life is discovered in Lake Vostok, it would strengthen the argument for the possibility of life on Europa.[48][49] On 7 February 2008, a NASA
NASA
team embarked on a mission to Lake Untersee, searching for extremophiles in its highly alkaline waters. If found, these resilient creatures could further bolster the argument for extraterrestrial life in extremely cold, methane-rich environments.[50] Geology

The bedrock topography of Antarctica, critical to understand dynamic motion of the continental ice sheets

Main article: Geology
Geology
of Antarctica

Subglacial topography and bathymetry of bedrock underlying Antarctica ice sheet

The above map shows the subglacial topography of Antarctica. As indicated by the scale on left-hand side, blue represents portion of Antarctica
Antarctica
lying below sea level. The other colours indicate Antarctic bedrock lying above sea level. Each colour represents an interval of 760 m (2,500 ft) in elevation. Map is not corrected for sea level rise or isostatic rebound, which would occur if the Antarctic ice sheet completely melted to expose the bedrock surface.

Topographic map of Antarctica
Antarctica
after removing the ice sheet and accounting for both isostatic rebound and sea level rise. Hence, this map suggests what Antarctica
Antarctica
may have looked like 35 million years ago, when the Earth
Earth
was warm enough to prevent the formation of large-scale ice sheets in Antarctica.

Geological history and palaeontology More than 170 million years ago, Antarctica
Antarctica
was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. Over time, Gondwana
Gondwana
gradually broke apart and Antarctica
Antarctica
as we know it today was formed around 25 million years ago. Antarctica
Antarctica
was not always cold, dry, and covered in ice sheets. At a number of points in its long history, it was farther north, experienced a tropical or temperate climate, was covered in forests, and inhabited by various ancient life forms. Palaeozoic era (540–250 Ma) During the Cambrian
Cambrian
period, Gondwana
Gondwana
had a mild climate. West Antarctica
Antarctica
was partially in the Northern Hemisphere, and during this period large amounts of sandstones, limestones and shales were deposited. East Antarctica
East Antarctica
was at the equator, where sea floor invertebrates and trilobites flourished in the tropical seas. By the start of the Devonian
Devonian
period (416 Ma), Gondwana
Gondwana
was in more southern latitudes and the climate was cooler, though fossils of land plants are known from this time. Sand
Sand
and silts were laid down in what is now the Ellsworth, Horlick and Pensacola Mountains. Glaciation began at the end of the Devonian
Devonian
period (360 Ma), as Gondwana became centred on the South Pole
South Pole
and the climate cooled, though flora remained. During the Permian
Permian
period, the land became dominated by seed plants such as Glossopteris, a pteridosperm which grew in swamps. Over time these swamps became deposits of coal in the Transantarctic Mountains. Towards the end of the Permian
Permian
period, continued warming led to a dry, hot climate over much of Gondwana.[51] Mesozoic
Mesozoic
era (250–66 Ma) As a result of continued warming, the polar ice caps melted and much of Gondwana
Gondwana
became a desert. In Eastern Antarctica, seed ferns or pteridosperms became abundant and large amounts of sandstone and shale were laid down at this time. Synapsids, commonly known as "mammal-like reptiles", were common in Antarctica
Antarctica
during the Early Triassic
Early Triassic
and included forms such as Lystrosaurus. The Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula began to form during the Jurassic
Jurassic
period (206–146 Ma), and islands gradually rose out of the ocean. Ginkgo
Ginkgo
trees, conifers, bennettites, horsetails, ferns and cycads were plentiful during this period. In West Antarctica, coniferous forests dominated through the entire Cretaceous
Cretaceous
period (146–66 Ma), though southern beech became more prominent towards the end of this period. Ammonites were common in the seas around Antarctica, and dinosaurs were also present, though only three Antarctic
Antarctic
dinosaur genera ( Cryolophosaurus
Cryolophosaurus
and Glacialisaurus, from the Hanson Formation,[52] and Antarctopelta) have been described to date.[53] It was during this era that Gondwana
Gondwana
began to break up. However, there is some evidence of antarctic marine glaciation during the Cretaceous
Cretaceous
period.[54] Gondwana
Gondwana
breakup (160–23 Ma) The cooling of Antarctica
Antarctica
occurred stepwise, as the continental spread changed the oceanic currents from longitudinal equator-to-pole temperature-equalising currents to latitudinal currents that preserved and accentuated latitude temperature differences. Africa
Africa
separated from Antarctica
Antarctica
in the Jurassic, around 160 Ma, followed by the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
in the early Cretaceous
Cretaceous
(about 125 Ma). By the end of the Cretaceous, about 66 Ma, Antarctica
Antarctica
(then connected to Australia) still had a subtropical climate and flora, complete with a marsupial fauna.[55] In the Eocene epoch, about 40 Ma Australia- New Guinea
New Guinea
separated from Antarctica, so that latitudinal currents could isolate Antarctica
Antarctica
from Australia, and the first ice began to appear. During the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event
Eocene–Oligocene extinction event
about 34 million years ago, CO2 levels have been found to be about 760 ppm[56] and had been decreasing from earlier levels in the thousands of ppm. Around 23 Ma, the Drake Passage
Drake Passage
opened between Antarctica
Antarctica
and South America, resulting in the Antarctic
Antarctic
Circumpolar Current that completely isolated the continent. Models of the changes suggest that declining CO2 levels became more important.[57] The ice began to spread, replacing the forests that then covered the continent. Neogene Period (23–0.05 Ma) Since about 15 Ma, the continent has been mostly covered with ice.[58] Meyer Desert
Desert
Formation biota Main article: Meyer Desert
Desert
Formation biota Fossil Nothofagus
Nothofagus
leaves in the Meyer Desert
Desert
Formation of the Sirius Group show that intermittent warm periods allowed Nothofagus
Nothofagus
shrubs to cling to the Dominion Range as late as 3–4 Ma (mid-late Pliocene).[59] After that, the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
ice age covered the whole continent and destroyed all major plant life on it.[60] Present-day

Glaciers and rock outcrops in Marie Byrd Land
Marie Byrd Land
seen from NASA's DC-8 aircraft

The geological study of Antarctica
Antarctica
has been greatly hindered by nearly all of the continent being permanently covered with a thick layer of ice.[61] However, new techniques such as remote sensing, ground-penetrating radar and satellite imagery have begun to reveal the structures beneath the ice. Geologically, West Antarctica
West Antarctica
closely resembles the Andes
Andes
mountain range of South America.[51] The Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula was formed by uplift and metamorphism of sea bed sediments during the late Paleozoic and the early Mesozoic
Mesozoic
eras. This sediment uplift was accompanied by igneous intrusions and volcanism. The most common rocks in West Antarctica
Antarctica
are andesite and rhyolite volcanics formed during the Jurassic
Jurassic
period. There is also evidence of volcanic activity, even after the ice sheet had formed, in Marie Byrd Land
Marie Byrd Land
and Alexander Island. The only anomalous area of West Antarctica
West Antarctica
is the Ellsworth Mountains region, where the stratigraphy is more similar to East Antarctica. East Antarctica
East Antarctica
is geologically varied, dating from the Precambrian era, with some rocks formed more than 3 billion years ago. It is composed of a metamorphic and igneous platform which is the basis of the continental shield. On top of this base are coal and various modern rocks, such as sandstones, limestones and shales laid down during the Devonian
Devonian
and Jurassic
Jurassic
periods to form the Transantarctic Mountains. In coastal areas such as Shackleton Range
Shackleton Range
and Victoria Land some faulting has occurred. The main mineral resource known on the continent is coal.[58] It was first recorded near the Beardmore Glacier
Beardmore Glacier
by Frank Wild
Frank Wild
on the Nimrod Expedition, and now low-grade coal is known across many parts of the Transantarctic Mountains. The Prince Charles Mountains
Prince Charles Mountains
contain significant deposits of iron ore. The most valuable resources of Antarctica
Antarctica
lie offshore, namely the oil and natural gas fields found in the Ross Sea
Ross Sea
in 1973. Exploitation of all mineral resources is banned until 2048 by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty. Climate Main article: Climate of Antarctica

The blue ice covering Lake Fryxell, in the Transantarctic Mountains, comes from glacial meltwater from the Canada Glacier
Glacier
and other smaller glaciers.

Near the coast, December looks fairly temperate.

Antarctica
Antarctica
is the coldest of Earth's continents. It used to be ice-free until about 34 million years ago, when it became covered with ice.[62] The coldest natural air temperature ever recorded on Earth was −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) at the Soviet (now Russian) Vostok Station
Vostok Station
in Antarctica
Antarctica
on 21 July 1983.[63] For comparison, this is 10.7 °C (20 °F) colder than subliming dry ice at one atmosphere of partial pressure, but since CO2 only makes up 0.039% of air, temperatures of less than −140 °C (−220 °F)[64] would be needed to produce dry ice snow in Antarctica. A lower air temperature of −94.7 °C (−138.5 °F) was recorded in 2010 by satellite—however, it may be influenced by ground temperatures and was not recorded at a height of 7 feet above the surface as required for the official air temperature records.[65] Antarctica
Antarctica
is a frozen desert with little precipitation; the South Pole itself receives less than 10 cm (4 in) per year, on average. Temperatures reach a minimum of between −80 °C (−112 °F) and −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) in the interior in winter and reach a maximum of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) near the coast in summer. Sunburn is often a health issue as the snow surface reflects almost all of the ultraviolet light falling on it. Given the latitude, long periods of constant darkness or constant sunlight create climates unfamiliar to human beings in much of the rest of the world.[66]

The snow surface at Dome C
Dome C
Station is typical of most of the continent's surface.

East Antarctica
East Antarctica
is colder than its western counterpart because of its higher elevation. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent, leaving the centre cold and dry. Despite the lack of precipitation over the central portion of the continent, ice there lasts for extended periods. Heavy snowfalls are common on the coastal portion of the continent, where snowfalls of up to 1.22 metres (48 in) in 48 hours have been recorded. At the edge of the continent, strong katabatic winds off the polar plateau often blow at storm force. In the interior, wind speeds are typically moderate. During clear days in summer, more solar radiation reaches the surface at the South Pole
South Pole
than at the equator because of the 24 hours of sunlight each day at the Pole.[1] Antarctica
Antarctica
is colder than the Arctic
Arctic
for three reasons. First, much of the continent is more than 3,000 m (9,800 ft) above sea level, and temperature decreases with elevation in the troposphere. Second, the Arctic
Arctic
Ocean covers the north polar zone: the ocean's relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in the Arctic
Arctic
regions from reaching the extremes typical of the land surface of Antarctica. Third, the Earth
Earth
is at aphelion in July (i.e., the Earth
Earth
is farthest from the Sun
Sun
in the Antarctic winter), and the Earth
Earth
is at perihelion in January (i.e., the Earth
Earth
is closest to the Sun
Sun
in the Antarctic
Antarctic
summer). The orbital distance contributes to a colder Antarctic
Antarctic
winter (and a warmer Antarctic summer) but the first two effects have more impact.[67] The aurora australis, commonly known as the southern lights, is a glow observed in the night sky near the South Pole
South Pole
created by the plasma-full solar winds that pass by the Earth. Another unique spectacle is diamond dust, a ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals. It generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies, so people sometimes also refer to it as clear-sky precipitation. A sun dog, a frequent atmospheric optical phenomenon, is a bright "spot" beside the true sun.[66] Population See also: Demographics of Antarctica
Demographics of Antarctica
and Research
Research
stations in Antarctica

The "ceremonial" South Pole, at Amundsen–Scott Station

Several governments maintain permanent manned research stations on the continent. The number of people conducting and supporting scientific research and other work on the continent and its nearby islands varies from about 1,000 in winter to about 5,000 in the summer, giving it a population density between 70 and 350 inhabitants per million square kilometres (180 and 900 per million square miles) at these times. Many of the stations are staffed year-round, the winter-over personnel typically arriving from their home countries for a one-year assignment. An Orthodox church—Trinity Church, opened in 2004 at the Russian Bellingshausen Station—is manned year-round by one or two priests, who are similarly rotated every year.[68][69]

Port Lockroy
Port Lockroy
Museum

The first semi-permanent inhabitants of regions near Antarctica
Antarctica
(areas situated south of the Antarctic
Antarctic
Convergence) were British and American sealers who used to spend a year or more on South Georgia, from 1786 onward. During the whaling era, which lasted until 1966, the population of that island varied from over 1,000 in the summer (over 2,000 in some years) to some 200 in the winter. Most of the whalers were Norwegian, with an increasing proportion of Britons. The settlements included Grytviken, Leith Harbour, King Edward Point, Stromness, Husvik, Prince Olav Harbour, Ocean Harbour
Ocean Harbour
and Godthul. Managers and other senior officers of the whaling stations often lived together with their families. Among them was the founder of Grytviken, Captain Carl Anton Larsen, a prominent Norwegian whaler and explorer who, along with his family, adopted British citizenship in 1910. The first child born in the southern polar region was Norwegian girl Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen, born in Grytviken
Grytviken
on 8 October 1913, and her birth was registered by the resident British Magistrate of South Georgia. She was a daughter of Fridthjof Jacobsen, the assistant manager of the whaling station, and Klara Olette Jacobsen. Jacobsen arrived on the island in 1904 and became the manager of Grytviken, serving from 1914 to 1921; two of his children were born on the island.[70] Emilio Marcos Palma was the first person born south of the 60th parallel south (the continental limit according to the Antarctic Treaty),[71] as well as the first one born on the Antarctic
Antarctic
mainland, in 1978 at Base Esperanza, on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula;[72][73] his parents were sent there along with seven other families by the Argentine government to determine if the continent was suitable for family life. In 1984, Juan Pablo Camacho was born at the Frei Montalva Station, becoming the first Chilean born in Antarctica. Several bases are now home to families with children attending schools at the station.[74] As of 2009, eleven children were born in Antarctica
Antarctica
(south of the 60th parallel south): eight at the Argentine Esperanza Base[75] and three at the Chilean Frei Montalva Station.[76] Biodiversity See also: Antarctic
Antarctic
ecozone, Antarctic
Antarctic
flora, Antarctic
Antarctic
microorganism, and Wildlife of Antarctica

Antarctopelta
Antarctopelta
fossils

Emperor penguins in Ross Sea, Antarctica

Animals Few terrestrial vertebrates live in Antarctica, and those that do are limited to the sub- Antarctic
Antarctic
islands.[77] Invertebrate
Invertebrate
life includes microscopic mites like the Alaskozetes antarcticus, lice, nematodes, tardigrades, rotifers, krill and springtails. The flightless midge Belgica antarctica, up to 6 mm (1⁄4 in) in size, is the largest purely terrestrial animal in Antarctica.[78] The snow petrel is one of only three birds that breed exclusively in Antarctica.[79] Some species of marine animals exist and rely, directly or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic
Antarctic
sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals. The emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica, while the Adélie penguin
Adélie penguin
breeds farther south than any other penguin. The southern rockhopper penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes, giving the appearance of elaborate eyelashes. King penguins, chinstrap penguins, and gentoo penguins also breed in the Antarctic. The Antarctic
Antarctic
fur seal was very heavily hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries for its pelt by sealers from the United States
United States
and the United Kingdom. The Weddell seal, a "true seal", is named after Sir James Weddell, commander of British sealing expeditions in the Weddell Sea. Antarctic
Antarctic
krill, which congregate in large schools, is the keystone species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, and is an important food organism for whales, seals, leopard seals, fur seals, squid, icefish, penguins, albatrosses and many other birds.[80] A census of sea life carried out during the International Polar Year and which involved some 500 researchers was released in 2010. The research is part of the global Census of Marine Life
Census of Marine Life
(CoML) and has disclosed some remarkable findings. More than 235 marine organisms live in both polar regions, having bridged the gap of 12,000 km (7,456 mi). Large animals such as some cetaceans and birds make the round trip annually. More surprising are small forms of life such as sea cucumbers, and free-swimming snails found in both polar oceans. Various factors may aid in their distribution – fairly uniform temperatures of the deep ocean at the poles and the equator which differ by no more than 5 °C, and the major current systems or marine conveyor belt which transport eggs and larval stages.[81] Fungi

About 400 species of lichen-forming fungi are known to exist in Antarctica.

About 1,150 species of fungi have been recorded from Antarctica, of which about 750 are non-lichen-forming and 400 are lichen-forming.[82][83] Some of these species are cryptoendoliths as a result of evolution under extreme conditions, and have significantly contributed to shaping the impressive rock formations of the McMurdo Dry Valleys and surrounding mountain ridges. The apparently simple morphology, scarcely differentiated structures, metabolic systems and enzymes still active at very low temperatures, and reduced life cycles shown by such fungi make them particularly suited to harsh environments such as the McMurdo Dry Valleys. In particular, their thick-walled and strongly melanised cells make them resistant to UV light. Those features can also be observed in algae and cyanobacteria, suggesting that these are adaptations to the conditions prevailing in Antarctica. This has led to speculation that, if life ever occurred on Mars, it might have looked similar to Antarctic
Antarctic
fungi such as Cryomyces antarcticus, and Cryomyces minteri.[84] Some of these fungi are also apparently endemic to Antarctica. Endemic Antarctic
Antarctic
fungi also include certain dung-inhabiting species which have had to evolve in response to the double challenge of extreme cold while growing on dung, and the need to survive passage through the gut of warm-blooded animals.[85] Plants About 298 million years ago Permian
Permian
forests started to cover the continent, and tundra vegetation survived as late as 15 million years ago,[86] but the climate of present-day Antarctica
Antarctica
does not allow extensive vegetation to form. A combination of freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, lack of moisture, and lack of sunlight inhibit plant growth. As a result, the diversity of plant life is very low and limited in distribution. The flora of the continent largely consists of bryophytes. There are about 100 species of mosses and 25 species of liverworts, but only three species of flowering plants, all of which are found in the Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula: Deschampsia antarctica ( Antarctic
Antarctic
hair grass), Colobanthus quitensis
Colobanthus quitensis
( Antarctic
Antarctic
pearlwort) and the non-native Poa annua
Poa annua
(annual bluegrass).[87] Growth is restricted to a few weeks in the summer.[82][88] Other organisms

Red fluid pours out of Blood Falls
Blood Falls
at Taylor Glacier. The colour derives from iron oxides.

Seven hundred species of algae exist, most of which are phytoplankton. Multicoloured snow algae and diatoms are especially abundant in the coastal regions during the summer.[88] Bacteria
Bacteria
have been found living in the cold and dark as deep as 800 m (0.50 mi; 2,600 ft) under the ice.[89] Conservation

Dumping of waste, including old vehicles, such as here at the Russian Bellingshausen Station
Bellingshausen Station
in 1992, is prohibited since the entry into force of the Protocol on Environmental Protection in 1998.

The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty (also known as the Environmental Protocol or Madrid Protocol) came into force in 1998, and is the main instrument concerned with conservation and management of biodiversity in Antarctica. The Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty Consultative Meeting is advised on environmental and conservation issues in Antarctica
Antarctica
by the Committee for Environmental Protection. A major concern within this committee is the risk to Antarctica
Antarctica
from unintentional introduction of non-native species from outside the region.[90] The passing of the Antarctic
Antarctic
Conservation Act (1978) in the U.S. brought several restrictions to U.S. activity on Antarctica. The introduction of alien plants or animals can bring a criminal penalty, as can the extraction of any indigenous species. The overfishing of krill, which plays a large role in the Antarctic
Antarctic
ecosystem, led officials to enact regulations on fishing. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic
Antarctic
Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a treaty that came into force in 1980, requires that regulations managing all Southern Ocean
Southern Ocean
fisheries consider potential effects on the entire Antarctic
Antarctic
ecosystem.[1] Despite these new acts, unregulated and illegal fishing, particularly of Patagonian toothfish
Patagonian toothfish
(marketed as Chilean Sea Bass in the U.S.), remains a serious problem. The illegal fishing of toothfish has been increasing, with estimates of 32,000 tonnes (35,300 short tons) in 2000.[91][92] Politics

Emblem of the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty since 2002.

29 national Antarctic
Antarctic
programmes together supporting science in Antarctica
Antarctica
(2009)

Several countries claim sovereignty in certain regions. While a few of these countries have mutually recognised each other's claims,[93] the validity of these claims is not recognised universally.[1] New claims on Antarctica
Antarctica
have been suspended since 1959, although in 2015 Norway
Norway
formally defined Queen Maud Land
Queen Maud Land
as including the unclaimed area between it and the South Pole.[94] Antarctica's status is regulated by the 1959 Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty and other related agreements, collectively called the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty System. Antarctica
Antarctica
is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60° S for the purposes of the Treaty System. The treaty was signed by twelve countries including the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
(and later Russia), the United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and the United States.[95] It set aside Antarctica
Antarctica
as a scientific preserve, established freedom of scientific investigation and environmental protection, and banned military activity on Antarctica. This was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. In 1983 the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty Parties began negotiations on a convention to regulate mining in Antarctica.[96] A coalition of international organisations[97] launched a public pressure campaign to prevent any minerals development in the region, led largely by Greenpeace International,[98] which operated its own scientific station— World
World
Park Base—in the Ross Sea
Ross Sea
region from 1987 until 1991[99] and conducted annual expeditions to document environmental effects of humans on Antarctica.[100] In 1988, the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic
Antarctic
Mineral Resources (CRAMRA) was adopted.[101] The following year, however, Australia
Australia
and France
France
announced that they would not ratify the convention, rendering it dead for all intents and purposes. They proposed instead that a comprehensive regime to protect the Antarctic
Antarctic
environment be negotiated in its place.[102] The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty (the "Madrid Protocol") was negotiated as other countries followed suit and on 14 January 1998 it entered into force.[102][103] The Madrid Protocol bans all mining in Antarctica, designating Antarctica
Antarctica
a "natural reserve devoted to peace and science".

HMS Endurance: the Royal Navy's former Antarctic
Antarctic
patrol ship.

The Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty prohibits any military activity in Antarctica, including the establishment of military bases and fortifications, military manoeuvres, and weapons testing. Military personnel or equipment are permitted only for scientific research or other peaceful purposes.[104] The only documented military land manoeuvre has been the small Operation NINETY by the Argentine military in 1965.[105] Antarctic
Antarctic
territories Main article: Territorial claims in Antarctica

Date Country Territory Claim limits Map

1908  United Kingdom  British Antarctic
Antarctic
Territory 20°W to 80°W

1923  New Zealand Ross Dependency 150°W to 160°E

1924  France Adélie Land 142°2′E to 136°11′E

1929  Norway Peter I Island 68°50′S 90°35′W / 68.833°S 90.583°W / -68.833; -90.583 (Peter I Island)

1933  Australia Australian Antarctic
Antarctic
Territory 160°E to 142°2′E and 136°11′E to 44°38′E

1939  Norway Queen Maud Land 44°38′E to 20°W

1940  Chile Chilean Antarctic
Antarctic
Territory 53°W to 90°W

1943  Argentina  Argentine Antarctica 25°W to 74°W

– (none) Unclaimed territory (Marie Byrd Land) 90°W to 150°W (except Peter I Island)

The Argentine, British and Chilean claims all overlap, and have caused friction. On 18 December 2012, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office named a previously unnamed area Queen Elizabeth Land
Queen Elizabeth Land
in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.[106] On 22 December 2012, the UK ambassador to Argentina, John Freeman, was summoned to the Argentine government as protest against the claim.[107] Argentine–UK relations had previously been damaged throughout 2012 due to disputes over the sovereignty of the nearby Falkland Islands, and the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War. The areas shown as Australia's and New Zealand's claims were British territory until they were handed over following the countries' independence. Australia
Australia
currently claims the largest area. The claims of Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France
France
and Norway
Norway
are all recognised by each other. Other countries participating as members of the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty have a territorial interest in Antarctica, but the provisions of the Treaty do not allow them to make their claims while it is in force.[108][109]

  Brazil
Brazil
has a designated "zone of interest" that is not an actual claim.[110]   Peru
Peru
has formally reserved its right to make a claim.[108][109]   Russia
Russia
has inherited the Soviet Union's right to claim territory under the original Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty.[111]   South Africa
South Africa
has formally reserved its right to make a claim.[108][109]   United States
United States
reserved its right to make a claim in the original Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty.[111]

Economy There is no economic activity in Antarctica
Antarctica
at present, except for fishing off the coast and small-scale tourism, both based outside Antarctica.[112] Although coal, hydrocarbons, iron ore, platinum, copper, chromium, nickel, gold and other minerals have been found, they have not been in large enough quantities to exploit.[113] The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty also restricts a struggle for resources. In 1998, a compromise agreement was reached to place an indefinite ban on mining, to be reviewed in 2048, further limiting economic development and exploitation. The primary economic activity is the capture and offshore trading of fish. Antarctic fisheries in 2000–01 reported landing 112,934 tonnes.[114]

Post office Tangra 1091 Antarctic
Antarctic
postal services of the Bulgarian scientific station

Small-scale "expedition tourism" has existed since 1957 and is currently subject to Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty and Environmental Protocol provisions, but in effect self-regulated by the International Association of Antarctica
Antarctica
Tour Operators (IAATO). Not all vessels associated with Antarctic
Antarctic
tourism are members of IAATO, but IAATO members account for 95% of the tourist activity. Travel is largely by small or medium ship, focusing on specific scenic locations with accessible concentrations of iconic wildlife. A total of 37,506 tourists visited during the 2006–07 Austral summer with nearly all of them coming from commercial ships; 38,478 were recorded in 2015–16.[115][116][117] There has been some concern over the potential adverse environmental and ecosystem effects caused by the influx of visitors. Some environmentalists and scientists have made a call for stricter regulations for ships and a tourism quota.[118] The primary response by Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty Parties has been to develop, through their Committee for Environmental Protection and in partnership with IAATO, "site use guidelines" setting landing limits and closed or restricted zones on the more frequently visited sites. Antarctic
Antarctic
sightseeing flights (which did not land) operated out of Australia
Australia
and New Zealand until the fatal crash of Air New Zealand
New Zealand
Flight 901 in 1979 on Mount Erebus, which killed all 257 aboard. Qantas
Qantas
resumed commercial overflights to Antarctica
Antarctica
from Australia
Australia
in the mid-1990s. Antarctic
Antarctic
fisheries in 1998–99 (1 July – 30 June) reported landing 119,898 tonnes legally.[119] About thirty countries maintain about seventy research stations (40 year-round or permanent, and 30 summer-only) in Antarctica, with an approximate population of 4000 in summer and 1000 in winter.[1] The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2
ISO 3166-1 alpha-2
"AQ" is assigned to the entire continent regardless of jurisdiction. Different country calling codes and currencies[120] are used for different settlements, depending on the administrating country. The Antarctican dollar, a souvenir item sold in the United States
United States
and Canada, is not legal tender.[1][121] Research See also: Research
Research
stations in Antarctica

A full moon and 25-second exposure allowed sufficient light for this photo to be taken at Amundsen–Scott South Pole
South Pole
Station during the long Antarctic
Antarctic
night. The station can be seen at far left, the power plant in the centre and the mechanic's garage in the lower right. The green light in the background is the aurora.

Each year, scientists from 28 different nations conduct experiments not reproducible in any other place in the world. In the summer more than 4,000 scientists operate research stations; this number decreases to just over 1,000 in the winter.[1] McMurdo Station, which is the largest research station in Antarctica, is capable of housing more than 1,000 scientists, visitors, and tourists. Researchers include biologists, geologists, oceanographers, physicists, astronomers, glaciologists, and meteorologists. Geologists tend to study plate tectonics, meteorites from outer space, and resources from the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana. Glaciologists in Antarctica
Antarctica
are concerned with the study of the history and dynamics of floating ice, seasonal snow, glaciers, and ice sheets. Biologists, in addition to examining the wildlife, are interested in how harsh temperatures and the presence of people affect adaptation and survival strategies in a wide variety of organisms. Medical physicians have made discoveries concerning the spreading of viruses and the body's response to extreme seasonal temperatures. Astrophysicists at Amundsen–Scott South Pole
South Pole
Station study the celestial dome and cosmic microwave background radiation. Many astronomical observations are better made from the interior of Antarctica
Antarctica
than from most surface locations because of the high elevation, which results in a thin atmosphere; low temperature, which minimises the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere; and absence of light pollution, thus allowing for a view of space clearer than anywhere else on Earth. Antarctic
Antarctic
ice serves as both the shield and the detection medium for the largest neutrino telescope in the world, built 2 km (1.2 mi) below Amundsen–Scott station.[122] Since the 1970s an important focus of study has been the ozone layer in the atmosphere above Antarctica. In 1985, three British scientists working on data they had gathered at Halley Station
Halley Station
on the Brunt Ice Shelf discovered the existence of a hole in this layer. It was eventually determined that the destruction of the ozone was caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emitted by human products. With the ban of CFCs in the Montreal Protocol
Montreal Protocol
of 1989, climate projections indicate that the ozone layer will return to 1980 levels between 2050 and 2070.[123] In September 2006 NASA
NASA
satellite data revealed that the Antarctic ozone hole was larger than at any other time on record, at 2,750,000 km2 (1,060,000 sq mi).[124] The impacts of the depleted ozone layer on climate changes occurring in Antarctica are not well understood.[123] In 2007 The Polar Geospatial Center was founded. The Polar Geospatial Center uses geospatial and remote sensing technology to provide mapping services to American federally funded research teams. Currently, the Polar Geospatial Center can image all of Antarctica
Antarctica
at 50 cm resolution every 45 days.[125] On 6 September 2007 Belgian-based International Polar Foundation unveiled the Princess Elisabeth station, the world's first zero-emissions polar science station in Antarctica
Antarctica
to research climate change. Costing $16.3 million, the prefabricated station, which is part of the International Polar Year, was shipped to the South Pole from Belgium
Belgium
by the end of 2008 to monitor the health of the polar regions. Belgian
Belgian
polar explorer Alain Hubert
Alain Hubert
stated: "This base will be the first of its kind to produce zero emissions, making it a unique model of how energy should be used in the Antarctic." Johan Berte is the leader of the station design team and manager of the project which conducts research in climatology, glaciology and microbiology.[126] In January 2008 British Antarctic
Antarctic
Survey (BAS) scientists, led by Hugh Corr and David Vaughan, reported (in the journal Nature Geoscience) that 2,200 years ago, a volcano erupted under Antarctica's ice sheet (based on airborne survey with radar images). The biggest eruption in Antarctica
Antarctica
in the last 10,000 years, the volcanic ash was found deposited on the ice surface under the Hudson Mountains, close to Pine Island Glacier.[127] A study from 2014 estimated that during the Pleistocene, the East Antarctic
Antarctic
Ice
Ice
Sheet (EAIS) thinned by at least 500 m (1,600 ft), and that thinning since the Last Glacial Maximum
Last Glacial Maximum
for the EAIS area is less than 50 m (160 ft) and probably started after c. 14 ka.[128] Meteorites

Antarctic
Antarctic
meteorite, named ALH84001, from Mars

Meteorites from Antarctica
Antarctica
are an important area of study of material formed early in the solar system; most are thought to come from asteroids, but some may have originated on larger planets. The first meteorite was found in 1912, and named the Adelie Land meteorite. In 1969, a Japanese expedition discovered nine meteorites. Most of these meteorites have fallen onto the ice sheet in the last million years. Motion of the ice sheet tends to concentrate the meteorites at blocking locations such as mountain ranges, with wind erosion bringing them to the surface after centuries beneath accumulated snowfall. Compared with meteorites collected in more temperate regions on Earth, the Antarctic
Antarctic
meteorites are well-preserved.[129] This large collection of meteorites allows a better understanding of the abundance of meteorite types in the solar system and how meteorites relate to asteroids and comets. New types of meteorites and rare meteorites have been found. Among these are pieces blasted off the Moon, and probably Mars, by impacts. These specimens, particularly ALH84001
ALH84001
discovered by ANSMET, are at the centre of the controversy about possible evidence of microbial life on Mars. Because meteorites in space absorb and record cosmic radiation, the time elapsed since the meteorite hit the Earth
Earth
can be determined from laboratory studies. The elapsed time since fall, or terrestrial residence age, of a meteorite represents more information that might be useful in environmental studies of Antarctic
Antarctic
ice sheets.[129] In 2006 a team of researchers from Ohio State University
Ohio State University
used gravity measurements by NASA's GRACE satellites to discover the 500-kilometre-wide (300 mi) Wilkes Land
Wilkes Land
crater, which probably formed about 250 million years ago.[130] In January 2013 an 18 kg (40 lb) meteorite was discovered frozen in ice on the Nansen ice field by a Search for Antarctic Meteorites, Belgian
Belgian
Approach (SAMBA) mission.[131] In January 2015 reports emerged of a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) circular structure, supposedly a meteorite crater, on the surface snow of King Baudouin Ice
Ice
Shelf. Satellite images from 25 years ago seemingly show it. Ice
Ice
mass and global sea level See also: Current sea level rise

Play media

The motion of ice in Antarctica

Due to its location at the South Pole, Antarctica
Antarctica
receives relatively little solar radiation. This means that it is a very cold continent where water is mostly in the form of ice. Precipitation
Precipitation
is low (most of Antarctica
Antarctica
is a desert) and almost always in the form of snow, which accumulates and forms a giant ice sheet which covers the land. Parts of this ice sheet form moving glaciers known as ice streams, which flow towards the edges of the continent. Next to the continental shore are many ice shelves. These are floating extensions of outflowing glaciers from the continental ice mass. Offshore, temperatures are also low enough that ice is formed from seawater through most of the year. It is important to understand the various types of Antarctic
Antarctic
ice to understand possible effects on sea levels and the implications of global cooling. Sea ice
Sea ice
extent expands annually in the Antarctic
Antarctic
winter and most of this ice melts in the summer. This ice is formed from the ocean water and floats in the same water and thus does not contribute to rise in sea level. The extent of sea ice around Antarctica
Antarctica
has remained roughly constant in recent decades, although the thickness changes are unclear.[132][133] Melting of floating ice shelves (ice that originated on the land) does not in itself contribute much to sea-level rise (since the ice displaces only its own mass of water). However it is the outflow of the ice from the land to form the ice shelf which causes a rise in global sea level. This effect is offset by snow falling back onto the continent. Recent decades have witnessed several dramatic collapses of large ice shelves around the coast of Antarctica, especially along the Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula. Concerns have been raised that disruption of ice shelves may result in increased glacial outflow from the continental ice mass.[134] On the continent itself, the large volume of ice present stores around 70% of the world's fresh water.[44] This ice sheet is constantly gaining ice from snowfall and losing ice through outflow to the sea. Overall, the net change is slightly positive at approximately 82 gigatonnes (Gt) per year (with significant regional variation), reducing global sea-level rise by 0.23 mm per year.[135] However, NASA's Climate Change website indicates an overall trend of greater than 100 gigatonnes of ice loss per year since 2002.[136] East Antarctica
East Antarctica
is a cold region with a ground base above sea level and occupies most of the continent. This area is dominated by small accumulations of snowfall which becomes ice and thus eventually seaward glacial flows. The mass balance of the East Antarctic
Antarctic
Ice Sheet as a whole is thought to be slightly positive (lowering sea level) or near to balance.[137][138][139] However, increased ice outflow has been suggested in some regions.[138][140] Effects of global warming

Warming trend from 1957 to 2006

See also: Global warming in Antarctica
Global warming in Antarctica
and Antarctic
Antarctic
sea ice Some of Antarctica
Antarctica
has been warming up; particularly strong warming has been noted on the Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula. A study by Eric Steig published in 2009 noted for the first time that the continent-wide average surface temperature trend of Antarctica
Antarctica
is slightly positive at >0.05 °C (0.09 °F) per decade from 1957 to 2006. This study also noted that West Antarctica
West Antarctica
has warmed by more than 0.1 °C (0.2 °F) per decade in the last 50 years, and this warming is strongest in winter and spring. This is partly offset by autumn cooling in East Antarctica.[141] There is evidence from one study that Antarctica
Antarctica
is warming as a result of human carbon dioxide emissions,[142] but this remains ambiguous.[143] The amount of surface warming in West Antarctica, while large, has not led to appreciable melting at the surface, and is not directly affecting the West Antarctic
Antarctic
Ice
Ice
Sheet's contribution to sea level. Instead the recent increases in glacier outflow are believed to be due to an inflow of warm water from the deep ocean, just off the continental shelf.[144][145] The net contribution to sea level from the Antarctic Peninsula is more likely to be a direct result of the much greater atmospheric warming there.[146] In 2002 the Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula's Larsen-B ice shelf collapsed.[147] Between 28 February and 8 March 2008, about 570 km2 (220 sq mi) of ice from the Wilkins Ice
Ice
Shelf on the southwest part of the peninsula collapsed, putting the remaining 15,000 km2 (5,800 sq mi) of the ice shelf at risk. The ice was being held back by a "thread" of ice about 6 km (4 mi) wide,[148][149] prior to its collapse on 5 April 2009.[150][151] According to NASA, the most widespread Antarctic surface melting of the past 30 years occurred in 2005, when an area of ice comparable in size to California briefly melted and refroze; this may have resulted from temperatures rising to as high as 5 °C (41 °F).[152] A study published in Nature Geoscience in 2013 (online in December 2012) identified central West Antarctica
West Antarctica
as one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. The researchers present a complete temperature record from Antarctica's Byrd Station and assert that it "reveals a linear increase in annual temperature between 1958 and 2010 by 2.4±1.2 °C".[153] Ozone
Ozone
depletion

Image of the largest Antarctic
Antarctic
ozone hole ever recorded due to CFCs accumulation (September 2006)

Main article: Ozone
Ozone
depletion There is a large area of low ozone concentration or "ozone hole" over Antarctica. This hole covers almost the whole continent and was at its largest in September 2008, when the longest lasting hole on record remained until the end of December.[154] The hole was detected by scientists in 1985[155] and has tended to increase over the years of observation. The ozone hole is attributed to the emission of chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs into the atmosphere, which decompose the ozone into other gases.[156] Some scientific studies suggest that ozone depletion may have a dominant role in governing climatic change in Antarctica
Antarctica
(and a wider area of the Southern Hemisphere).[155] Ozone
Ozone
absorbs large amounts of ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere. Ozone depletion
Ozone depletion
over Antarctica
Antarctica
can cause a cooling of around 6 °C in the local stratosphere. This cooling has the effect of intensifying the westerly winds which flow around the continent (the polar vortex) and thus prevents outflow of the cold air near the South Pole. As a result, the continental mass of the East Antarctic
Antarctic
ice sheet is held at lower temperatures, and the peripheral areas of Antarctica, especially the Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula, are subject to higher temperatures, which promote accelerated melting.[155] Models also suggest that the ozone depletion/enhanced polar vortex effect also accounts for the recent increase in sea ice just offshore of the continent.[157]

See also

Antarctica
Antarctica
portal

Antarctic
Antarctic
Plate List of mountain ranges in Antarctica List of volcanoes in Antarctica Lists of places in Antarctica North Pole Ross Sea

Notes

^ The word was originally pronounced without the first /k/ in English, but the spelling pronunciation has become common and is often considered more correct. The pronunciation without the first /k/ and the first /t/ is however widespread and a typical phenomenon of English in many other similar words too.[2] The "c" already ceased to be pronounced in Medieval Latin and was dropped from the spelling in Old French, but it was added back to the spelling for etymological reasons in English in the 17th century and then began to be pronounced, but (as with other spelling pronunciations) at first only by less educated people.[3][4]

References

^ a b c d e f g h i United States
United States
Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
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and New Zealand
New Zealand
(NZHistory.net.nz) Journey to Antarctica
Antarctica
in 1959 – slideshow by The New York Times Listen to Ernest Shackleton
Ernest Shackleton
describing his 1908 South Pole
South Pole
Expedition The recording describing Shackleton's 1908 South Pole
South Pole
Expedition was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry in 2007 Map of Antarctican subglacial lakes Video: The Bedrock Beneath Antarctica White Ocean of Ice
Ice
Antarctica
Antarctica
and climate change blog

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Antarctica

General

Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty System Climate Colonization Demographics Economy Expeditions Field camps Flags Flora Geography Geology History Mammals Microorganisms Military activity Protected areas Religion Research
Research
stations Telecommunications Territorial claims Time Tourism Transport Volcanoes Wildlife

Geographic regions

Antarctic
Antarctic
Peninsula East Antarctica West Antarctica Ecozone Extreme points Floristic Kingdom Islands

Waterways

Lake Vostok List of rivers McMurdo Sound Ross Sea Southern Ocean Weddell Sea Lake CECs

Famous explorers

Roald Amundsen Richard E. Byrd Douglas Mawson James Clark Ross Robert Falcon Scott Ernest Shackleton more...

Category Commons Antarctica
Antarctica
portal Index

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Continents of the world

   

Africa

Antarctica

Asia

Australia

Europe

North America

South America

   

Afro-Eurasia

America

Eurasia

Oceania

   

Former supercontinents Gondwana Laurasia Pangaea Pannotia Rodinia Columbia Kenorland Nena Sclavia Ur Vaalbara

Historical continents Amazonia Arctica Asiamerica Atlantica Avalonia Baltica Cimmeria Congo craton Euramerica Kalaharia Kazakhstania Laurentia North China Siberia South China East Antarctica India

   

Submerged continents Kerguelen Plateau Zealandia

Possible future supercontinents Pangaea
Pangaea
Ultima Amasia Novopangaea

Mythical and hypothesised continents Atlantis Kumari Kandam Lemuria Meropis Mu Hyperborea Terra Australis

See also Regions of the world Continental fragment

Book Category

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World
World
deserts

Desert Desertification List of deserts List of deserts by area

Africa

Algerian Bayuda Blue Chalbi Danakil Djurab Eastern Ferlo Farafra (White) Kalahari Libyan Moçâmedes Namib Nubian Nyiri Owami Richtersveld Sahara Tanezrouft Ténéré Western

Asia

Ad-Dahna Akshi Arabian Aral Karakum Aralkum Badain Jaran Betpak-Dala Cholistan Dasht-e Kavir Dasht-e Khash Dasht-e Leili Dasht-e Loot Dasht-e Margo Dasht-e Naomid Gurbantünggüt Gobi Hami Indus Valley Judaean Karakum Katpana Kharan Kumtag Kyzylkum Lop Maranjab Muyunkum Nefud Negev Polond Ordos Qaidam Ramlat al-Sab'atayn Rub' al Khali Russian Arctic Registan Saryesik-Atyrau Syrian Taklamakan Tengger Thal Thar Ustyurt Plateau Wahiba Sands

Australia

Gibson Great Sandy Great Victoria Little Sandy Nullarbor Plain Painted Pedirka Simpson Strzelecki Sturt's Stony Tanami Tirari

Europe

Accona Bardenas Reales Błędów Cabo de Gata Deliblatska Peščara Hálendi Monegros Oleshky Oltenian Sahara Ryn Stranja Tabernas

North America

Alvord Amargosa Baja California Black Rock Carcross Carson Channeled scablands Chihuahuan Colorado Escalante Forty Mile Gran Desierto de Altar Great Basin Great Salt Lake Great Sandy Jornada del Muerto Kaʻū Lechuguilla Mojave North American Arctic Owyhee Painted Desert Red Desert Sevier Smoke Creek Sonoran Tonopah Desert Tule (Arizona) Tule (Nevada) Yp Yuha Yuma

South America

Atacama La Guajira Los Médanos de Coro Monte Patagonian Sechura Tatacoa

Zealandia

Rangipo Desert

Polar Regions

Antarctica Arctic Greenland North American Arctic Russian Arctic

Project Category Commons

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Polar exploration

Arctic

Ocean History Expeditions Research
Research
stations

Farthest North North Pole

Barentsz Hudson Marmaduke Carolus Parry North Magnetic Pole

J. Ross J. C. Ross Abernethy Kane Hayes

Polaris

Polaris C. F. Hall

British Arctic
Arctic
Expedition

HMS Alert Nares HMS Discovery Stephenson Markham

Lady Franklin Bay Expedition

Greely Lockwood Brainard

1st Fram
Fram
expedition

Fram Nansen Johansen Sverdrup

Jason

Amedeo

F. Cook Peary Sedov Byrd Airship Norge

Amundsen Nobile Wisting Riiser-Larsen Ellsworth

Airship Italia Nautilus

Wilkins

ANT-25

Chkalov Baydukov Belyakov

"North Pole" manned drifting ice stations NP-1

Papanin Shirshov E. Fyodorov Krenkel

NP-36 NP-37 Sedov

Badygin Wiese

USS Nautilus USS Skate Plaisted Herbert NS Arktika Barneo Arktika 2007

Mir submersibles Sagalevich Chilingarov

Iceland Greenland

Pytheas Brendan Papar Vikings Naddodd Svavarsson Arnarson Norse colonization of the Americas Ulfsson Galti Erik the Red Christian IV's expeditions

J. Hall Cunningham Lindenov C. Richardson

Danish colonization

Egede

Scoresby Jason

Nansen Sverdrup

Peary Rasmussen

Northwest Passage Northern Canada

Cabot G. Corte-Real M. Corte-Real Frobisher Gilbert Davis Hudson Discovery

Bylot Baffin

Munk I. Fyodorov Gvozdev HMS Resolution

J. Cook

HMS Discovery

Clerke

Mackenzie Kotzebue J. Ross HMS Griper

Parry

HMS Hecla

Lyon

HMS Fury

Hoppner

Crozier J. C. Ross Coppermine Expedition Franklin Back Dease Simpson HMS Blossom

Beechey

Franklin's lost expedition

HMS Erebus HMS Terror

Collinson Rae–Richardson Expedition

Rae J. Richardson

Austin McClure Expedition

HMS Investigator McClure HMS Resolute Kellett

Belcher Kennedy Bellot Isabel

Inglefield

2nd Grinnell Expedition

USS Advance Kane

Fox

McClintock

HMS Pandora

Young

Fram

Sverdrup

Gjøa

Amundsen

Rasmussen Karluk

Stefansson Bartlett

St. Roch

H. Larsen

Cowper

North East Passage Russian Arctic

Pomors Koch boats Willoughby Chancellor Barentsz Mangazeya Hudson Poole Siberian Cossacks Perfilyev Stadukhin Dezhnev Popov Ivanov Vagin Permyakov Great Northern Expedition

Bering Chirikov Malygin Ovtsyn Minin V. Pronchishchev M. Pronchishcheva Chelyuskin Kh. Laptev D. Laptev

Chichagov Lyakhov Billings Sannikov Gedenschtrom Wrangel Matyushkin Anjou Litke Lavrov Pakhtusov Tsivolko Middendorff Austro-Hungarian Expedition

Weyprecht Payer

Vega Expedition

A. E. Nordenskiöld Palander

USS Jeannette

De Long

Yermak

Makarov

Zarya

Toll Kolomeitsev Matisen Kolchak

Sedov Rusanov Kuchin Brusilov Expedition

Sv. Anna Brusilov Albanov Konrad

Wiese Nagórski Taymyr / Vaygach

Vilkitsky

Maud

Amundsen

AARI

Samoylovich

Begichev Urvantsev Sadko

Ushakov

Glavsevmorput

Schmidt

Aviaarktika

Shevelev

Sibiryakov

Voronin

Chelyuskin Krassin Gakkel Nuclear-powered icebreakers

NS Lenin Arktika class

Antarctic

Continent History Expeditions

Southern Ocean

Roché Bouvet Kerguelen HMS Resolution

J. Cook

HMS Adventure

Furneaux

Smith San Telmo Vostok

Bellingshausen

Mirny

Lazarev

Bransfield Palmer Davis Weddell Morrell Astrolabe

Dumont d'Urville

United States
United States
Exploring Expedition

USS Vincennes Wilkes

USS Porpoise

Ringgold

Ross expedition

HMS Erebus (J. C. Ross Abernethy) HMS Terror (Crozier)

Cooper Challenger expedition

HMS Challenger Nares Murray

Jason

C. A. Larsen

"Heroic Age"

Belgian
Belgian
Antarctic
Antarctic
Expedition

Belgica de Gerlache Lecointe Amundsen Cook Arctowski Racoviță Dobrowolski

Southern Cross

Southern Cross Borchgrevink

Discovery

Discovery Discovery Hut

Gauss

Gauss Drygalski

Swedish Antarctic
Antarctic
Expedition

Antarctic O. Nordenskjöld C. A. Larsen

Scottish Antarctic
Antarctic
Expedition

Bruce Scotia

Orcadas Base Nimrod Expedition

Nimrod

French Antarctic
Antarctic
Expeditions

Pourquoi-Pas Charcot

Japanese Antarctic
Antarctic
Expedition

Shirase

Amundsen's South Pole
South Pole
expedition

Fram Amundsen Framheim Polheim

Terra Nova

Terra Nova Scott Wilson E. R. Evans Crean Lashly

Filchner Australasian Antarctic
Antarctic
Expedition

SY Aurora Mawson

Far Eastern Party Imperial Trans- Antarctic
Antarctic
Expedition

Endurance Ernest Shackleton Wild

James Caird Ross Sea
Ross Sea
party

Mackintosh

Shackleton–Rowett Expedition

Quest

IPY · IGY Modern research

Christensen Byrd BANZARE BGLE

Rymill

New Swabia

Ritscher

Operation Tabarin

Marr

Operation Highjump Captain Arturo Prat Base British Antarctic
Antarctic
Survey Operation Windmill

Ketchum

Ronne Expedition

F. Ronne E. Ronne Schlossbach

Operation Deep Freeze McMurdo Station Commonwealth Trans- Antarctic
Antarctic
Expedition

Hillary V. Fuchs

Soviet Antarctic
Antarctic
Expeditions

1st

Somov Klenova Mirny

2nd

Tryoshnikov

3rd

Tolstikov

Antarctic
Antarctic
Treaty System Transglobe Expedition

Fiennes Burton

Lake Vostok Kapitsa

Farthest South South Pole

HMS Resolution

J. Cook

HMS Adventure

Furneaux

Weddell HMS Erebus

J. C. Ross

HMS Terror

Crozier

Southern Cross

Borchgrevink

Discovery

Barne

Nimrod

Shackleton Wild Marshall Adams

South Magnetic Pole

Mawson David Mackay

Amundsen's South Pole
South Pole
expedition

Fram Amundsen Bjaaland Helmer Hassel Wisting Polheim

Terra Nova

Scott E. Evans Oates Wilson Bowers

Byrd Balchen McKinley Dufek Amundsen–Scott South Pole
South Pole
Station Hillary V. Fuchs Pole of Cold

Vostok Station

Pole of inaccessibility

Pole of Inaccessibility Station Tolstikov

Crary A. Fuchs Messner

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Countries and territories bordering the Indian Ocean

Africa

Comoros Djibouti Egypt Eritrea France

Mayotte Réunion

Kenya Madagascar Mauritius Mozambique Rodrigues
Rodrigues
(Mauritius) Seychelles Somalia South Africa Sudan Tanzania Zanzibar, Tanzania

Asia

Bangladesh British Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
Territory

Chagos Archipelago
Chagos Archipelago
- United Kingdom

Christmas Island
Christmas Island
(Australia) Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
(Australia) India Indonesia Malaysia Maldives Myanmar Oman Pakistan Sri Lanka Thailand Timor-Leste Yemen

Other

Antarctica

Australian Antarctic
Antarctic
Territory French Southern and Antarctic
Antarctic
Lands Heard Island and McDonald Islands

Australia

Coordinates: 90°S 0°E / 90°S 0°E / -90; 0

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 233742497 LCCN: sh85005490 GND: 4192069-7 SELIBR:

.