You may have forgot Antarctica even existed down there, like the old adage goes out of sight, out of mind. Be aware of and consider a few different routes to understand more about Antarctica, before making your final decisions about this far away continent. There are plenty of individuals with loads of questions about Earth’s southernmost landmass, so fasten your seat belt; it’s going to be a chilly ride.
1. The South Pole Is Not An Exact Location
Because of its relative everyday obsolescence to most of us, its unfathomable that Antarctica boasts a variety of noteworthy locations. McMurdo Station, Adelaide Island, and the Ross Sea and Ice shelf named for British naval captain James Clark Ross who discovered the region in 1841 are just a few.
Besides these existing functional locations, the one geographic feather most of us readily conjure in our minds is the South Pole. Antarctica’s south pole is gifted with a lovely sign and row of flags representing associated nations, however, because the of the Earth’s slight rotational shifting, or teetering there is no truly exact south pole.
Marker 1 is the location of the south Geographic pole, or the actual physical location precisely opposite the more popular North Pole which enjoys all that free press from the fat man in the red suit. Marker 2 suprisingly is the actual spot of the southenmost magnetic pole, or the lower residence earth's magnetic field. Marker 3 represens the south geomagnetic pole, and Marker 4 is the South Pole of Inaccessability.
2. Ozone Depletion May be A Result of Diminished Iron Levels in Antarctic Waters
Scientists have known for some time that phytoplankton, microscopic maritime organisms, contribute directly to cleaning our oceans and the very air we breathe. Like us, these organisms require a balance of several minerals in order to thrive and continue living.
Due to a recorded drop in levels of the essential mineral Iron in the waters approximating the Antarctic area, local phytoplankton are less numerous. Lower levels of life-giving phytoplankton means less natural filtering of harmful carbon monoxide gasses in the air, and it is this that has been purported to be the cause of the damage done to our protective ozone layer in that specific region.
3. Ships Are Tailor Made For Antarctic Climate
Specialty barges referred to as Ice Breakers are uniquely designed to break through icy waters effectively forging a pathway for subsequent vessels. Rather than using speed and kinetic energy to burst through the thick icy shelf resting atop the majority of waterways contained within Antarctica, these ice breakers surge upward, resting briefly atop the icy shelf itself.
The weight of the ship effectively crushes the ice resting below and they are those few feet or meters closer to their destination.
4. There is Tight Criteria for Visiting Nations
Because we had learned so much from the trials of the first half of the century, in 1959 the Antarctic treaty was signed by 13 nations, then by a further 37 thereafter. Conditions of the treaty dictate that in order for any nation to have an existing presence in Antarctica, they must be there a scientific pretense.
The Treaty also specifically bars any form of military or commercial activities, including prospecting of any kind. This was in an effort to preserve not only the strikingly unique geography, but the wildly diverse and breathtakingly beautiful wildlife that so richly populate Antarctica.
The Treaty also dictates that no nation hold a permanent presence. Every territory, which is established, must be done so with the understanding that it will eventually be dismantled and removed. Because of the stipulation that any residing nation must do so under the pretext of scientific research, the largest populations of people who live in Antarctica are scientists, at around 3,000. Surprisingly, it is visited annually by some 30,000 tourists who travel there largely by boat.
It might be common knowledge by now that the hottest place recorded on Earth was at the Furnace Creek Ranch in the Death Valley desert in eastern California, at 56.°C, 134° Fahrenheit.
But the coldest recorded temperature on Earth was at the Russian Vostok Station? The tiny gathering of raised buildings raised above ground to avoid being buried in snow drifts has reached temperatures as low as −89.2 °C, or −128.6 °Fahrenheit. This record low was taken from the above shown Vostok Station all the way back in 1983.
1. Walker, Gabrielle. Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. Print.
2. Rejcek, Peter. "Two Ships, One Mission." The Antarctic Sun Science News. United States Antarctic Program, 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 25 May 2013.
3. Martin, John H., R. Michael Gordon, and Steve E. Fitzwater. "Iron in Antarctic Waters." Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 10 May 1990. Web. 25 May 2013.