Why is Antarctica so different from any other continent on earth? An isolated and harsh place, inhabited mainly by penguins and researchers. Here are some of the unique characteristics that make it so special:
The ice cap is a very precious world resource, storing around 70% of the planet’s freshwater. It’s vital this doesn’t melt and become salinated by mixing in with sea water. The process of desalinating water is complicated on a large scale, and very expensive.
Far below the ice, liquid hidden lakes teem with microscopic life. Researching how life exists in these harsh conditions will help scientists find out how to live on other planets.
Sun never sets:
During the summer you could see the midnight sun, and even sunbathe in the middle of the night! Of course, in the winter, the sun doesn’t rise at all. It’s just as well for tourists who are only able to visit during the summer.
A massive mountain chain, one of the longest in the world, divides the continent between east and west. Some peaks are so high they’re snow free. The balance of mountain against the vast plains of snow, create extraordinary winds called katabatic wind. The Antarctic Dumont d’Urville Station records wind speeds of up to 320 kilometres per hour on occasion.
On most of our continents, there’re volcanoes, and the Antarctic is no different. Two active volcanoes as well as plenty of extinct ones. A subglacial volcano erupts deep below the ice at Deception Island. Mount Erebus is very busy with a molten lava lake in its crater and is a picture-perfect volcano.
Meteorites and megadunes:
Satellite pictures show miles of ‘megadunes’. Very low unbroken waves are stretching across the surface of the continent, barely perceptible on foot. If you’re into meteors, they’re much easier to find here where they stand dark and grey against the white snow and ice.