Antarctica, the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole it’s the fifth-largest continent at over 14 million square kilometers in size. The average temperature is -76 degrees Fahrenheit at the highest points to 14 degrees along the coast.
What is Antarctica Like?
Most of Antarctica is covered in ice. There is only 2% of the land that is not covered by ice. The ice that covers it is 1.9 kilometers deep.
- It has 70% of the freshwater on Earth.
- Is surrounded by the Southern Ocean.
Antarctica Facts for Kids:
- It’s located at the southernmost continent on Earth.
- It’s surrounded by the Southern Ocean
- It’s almost double the size of Australia
- In places the ice over 1.6 kilometers thick (1 mile)
- Antarctica has 90% of the ice that is on the Earth.
- The boundary of Antarctica is called the Antarctic Convergence
- The shape of Antarctica is a circular shape with an arm that goes towards South America.
- The boundary of Antarctica is called the Antarctic Convergence and it has 90% of the ice that is on the Earth.
- There are igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary, and volcanic rocks that are located in Antarctica.
- Because the ice on Antarctica is so thick, it is considered the highest continent.
- Most of the food that is brought into Antarctica is frozen food and canned food.
- When people in the past explored Antarctica, they used dog sleds and skiing to go places.
- Antarctica has a treaty called the “Antarctic Treaty.” This treaty says that no nation can claim ownership of Antarctica.
- Part of the Antarctic Treaty says that the land cannot be used for military purposes or to get rid of radioactive materials.
Climate of Antarctica
The climate is very harsh.
- Very cold
- Very icy
- Has low precipitation.
Antarctica is so dry that it is called a “Polar Desert”
Sometimes, in May and August, the temperature will get less than -100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The further away from the coastal areas, the drier and colder the weather gets.
The average temperature along the coast is around 14 degrees Fahrenheit to -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the summer months, the weather is usually around 32 degrees Fahrenheit and can reach up to 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the mountain areas, the temperatures are much cooler and can get as low as -76 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months and around -4 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
The amount of precipitation that Antarctica gets is hard to calculate because it usually is snowfall.
It is thought they get around 2 to 4 inches of precipitation a year but only in the form of snow.
The desert is one of the driest areas on Earth.
Why is Antarctica Important?
It’s important for many reasons one being that it helps to balance the heat on the Earth.
Since it is covered in ice, the ice helps to reflect the radiation from the sun out of the Earth’s surface.
If the ice would melt, it would cause there to be more heat on the Earth because the atmosphere would collect the heat instead of reflecting it.
This would cause there to be a climate change and would make global warming happen.
How Does Climate Change Affect Antarctica?
When the climate warms up, it causes more ice to form in some parts of Antarctica.
When this happens, a strong wind can come. This strong wind is called a Polar Vortex.
When a Polar Vortex happens, it causes wind temperatures to get lower and more ice to form.
Waters Around Antarctica
The waters that surround Antarctica are very important.
These waters are part of what is called the “ocean conveyor belt.”
The ocean conveyor belt is what causes the water to circulate around the world.
Since the water is very cold, it is heavy and pushes against the floor of the ocean.
When this happens, it causes warmer water in the oceans to rise to the top.
The cold water is called the Antarctic Bottom Water.
When the water moves around Antarctica, it pushes water around the whole world.
The winds help to make the water move even quicker.
How Big is Antarctica?
It is twice as big as Australia. It is the size of Mexico and the United States of America combined together.
When it is wintertime, it doubles in size because of all of the ice that forms around the coastal areas.
What is Close to Antarctica?
There are several landmasses that are from 600-2500 miles away from Antarctica.
Some of these include:
- South Africa
- South America
Features of Antarctica
It has the most ice that is found on the Earth’s surface.
The elevation of the ice is 2,000 meters above sea level around the coastal areas and 4,000 meters in the center of Antarctica. These ice sheets grow bigger and bigger when it snows.
During the wintertime, the surface of the ice increases from 1.2 million square miles all the way to 7.3 million square miles, and most of the ice grows where the coastal shelves are.
Coastal ice shelves are ice sheets that float and connect to a continent.
Two of Antarctica’s ice shelves are:
- Ross Ice Shelf
- Ronne Ice Shelf
There are some mountain summits that are located in Antarctica and these are found over 4,500 meters above sea level.
Antarctica is the only continent that is covered with one large sheet of ice. The ice sheet is divided into parts, the East and the West Ice Sheets.
How is Antarctica Divided?
Antarctica is divided into two parts:
- East Antarctica – also called Greater Antarctica
- West Antarctica- also called Lesser Antarctica
The two parts are divided by mountains that are called the Transantarctic Mountains.
These mountains are found all around Antarctica but most of them are buried under all of the ice.
Volcanoes on Antarctica
There are two different volcanoes that are active volcanoes.
These two volcanoes are:
- Mount Erebus
- Deception Island
Mount Erebus is the most active volcano in Antarctica.
Antarctica is part of the “Ring of Fire” that is known to have a lot of tectonic activity or the movement of plates. This can cause a lot of earthquakes and volcanoes.
The Antarctica Pyramids
There is a mountain that is in Antarctica that is shaped like a pyramid.
Scientists believe that this is just a mountain that has a shape like a pyramid.
The Countries of Antarctica
Antarctica is a different kind of continent because it has no countries.
There are seven different nations that say that they are part of Antarctica, including:
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
There are also some islands that are located in Antarctica such as:
- South Shetland Islands
- South Georgia
- South Orkney Islands
- South Sandwich Islands
- Peter 1 Island
- Bouvet Island
- Heard Island
- McDonald Island
- Scott Island
- Balleny Island
Even though there are all of these islands and territories, there are not people that live in Antarctica.
Plants of Antarctica
There are many different plants that grow in Antarctica, mostly around the coastal areas and very little in the inside of Antarctica. Some of these include:
Fish of Antarctica
There are so many different fish and marine life that is found in the water around Antarctica.
Some of these include:
- Blue Whales
- Fin Whales
- Humpback Whales
- Right Whales
- Minke Whales
- Sei Whales
- Sperm Whales
- Antarctic Toothfish
Animals of Antarctica
There are also many different types of animals that live in Antarctica such as:
- Leopard Seal
- Emperor Penguin
- Weddell Seal
- Elephant Seal
- Wondering Albatross
- Snow Petrel
- Kelp Gull
People of Antarctica
As we said above, there are no people that live in Antarctica, but that does not mean that people do not visit Antarctica.
As a matter of fact, Antarctica has many areas for scientists and government officials to go and be able to do research there. Many of these people include:
- Geographers-people who study maps
- Meteorologists-people who study weather
- Climatologists-people who study the climate
- Marine biologists-people who study animals
- Astronomers-people who study stars
In Antarctica, there are many research stations. Some of them include:
- McMurdo Station-Has more than 80 different buildings and has more than 1,250 people that go there to do construction, maintenance, and more. It also has a laboratory and a firehouse.
- Esperanza-the largest research facility in Antarctica. It has a chapel, a school, and had the first birth in Antarctica there.
- Davis Station– this is a scientific research station. There you can find a hydroponic greenhouse. Hydroponic means that you grow plants with only nutrients and water and do not use soil.
What Did You Learn?
- What is Antarctica?
Antarctica is a continent that is located in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the fifth-largest continent.
- What is Antarctica like?
Antarctica is mostly covered by ice and is very cold and dry.
- Does it rain in Antarctica?
Antarctica does get precipitation but not in the form of rain. Most of the precipitation comes in the form of snow.
- What are some interesting features of Antarctica?
Antarctica has active volcanoes and is part of the “Ring of Fire” which is known for a lot of volcanic activity.
- Is Antarctica important?
Besides Antarctica being the home of many different animal species, it is also a place for people to be able to research the land. Antarctica also helps to regulate the Earth’s temperature because the ice reflects some of the radiation from the sun back out of the atmosphere.
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