On the southern-most tip of the planet rests certainly one of the world’s most massive landmasses – the frozen realm of Antarctica.
It’s Earth’s least-populated continent – and certainly one of its most inexplicable places.
These 20 cold-hard facts should go some technique to lifting the veil of mystery around it. They have been compiled by the Chief Scientist, Dr Verena Meraldi, and the resident Antarctica expert, Tudor Morgan, of Hurtigruten Expeditions to mark the twentieth anniversary of the journey cruise line’s first sailing to Antarctica. Scroll down for the lowdown on a glacier that ‘bleeds’, a penguin post office, a ‘ghost’ mountain range, and more…
The primary person to succeed in the South Pole was Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Above is a statue of him in Tromso, Norway
1. The primary person to succeed in the South Pole was Roald Amundsen
Roald Amundsen is a Norwegian explorer who first planted the Norwegian flag there in December 1911. He beat the Brits by a month. Hurtigruten Expeditions named its first (also the world’s first) hybrid-powered ship, MS Roald Amundsen, after the famous explorer.
2. Antarctica is, on average, the windiest place on Earth
Scientists exploring this southerly landmass have reported wind speeds which have reached as much as 200mph. Antarctica’s geography and climate means it gets a special sort of ‘katabatic’ wind, formed when air moves down a slope. In Antarctica, the mountain range paired against large, flat expanses makes for a dramatic wind combination.
3. The primary person to be born in Antarctica was Argentine Emilio Marcos Palma
As a ploy to assert sovereignty over a part of the continent, Argentina sent a pregnant mother there on purpose in 1977 so she could birth her child on a bit of contested territory. Thus far, 11 babies have been born on the continent.
4. You possibly can send a postcard home on the Penguin Post Office
This image of Port Lockroy was captured during a 2002 Hurtigruten Antarctic voyage
Port Lockroy, on Goudier Island, is home to the UK’s most southerly public Post Office, lovingly referred to as the Penguin Post Office. The Post Office is operated by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, with around 70,000 cards being posted annually to over 100 countries.
5. Antarctica was as warm as Melbourne
4 and a half million years ago, Antarctica was warm and covered in palm trees. But in contrast, in 1983, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica, a frosty –89.2C.
6. The band Metallica played a concert in Antarctica
On December 8, 2013, the metal band Metallica played a concert in Antarctica, making it the primary band to have played on all seven continents in a single yr.
7. It’s home to an ‘unfreezable’ lake
Deep Lake in Antarctica is so salty that it cannot freeze, even in temperatures as little as minus 15 degrees Celsius. Its waters are 10 times saltier than the ocean, which competes with the Dead Sea.
8. There isn’t a Antarctic time zone
Antarctica has roughly 300 lakes that may’t freeze as they’re underground and remain above 0C on account of the warmth from the Earth’s core. Pictured above is Hurtigruten ship MS Fram
Antarctica doesn’t have its own time zone. Many of the continent experiences six months of constant daylight in the summertime and 6 months of darkness in winter, so time seems more fluid. Scientists and researchers are inclined to stay within the time zone of the country to which their station belongs.
9. Antarctica is the one continent with no reptiles
Reptiles depend on their environment to remain warm, so it’s simply not possible for reptiles to remain warm in Antarctica. You’ll, nevertheless, find the Antarctic ‘ice fish’, which don’t have any red blood cells (normally needed to hold oxygen) and are ghostly white in appearance.
10. Antarctica has a ghost mountain range
In winter, the Antarctic Sea advances from the continent by around 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles) per day, ultimately doubling the scale of Antarctica before melting again in the summertime
Completely buried beneath the thick Antarctic ice, the Gamburtsev Mountains stretch greater than 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) across the inside of the continent. With the tallest peaks around 2,800m (9,000ft), they’re about one-third the scale of Earth’s tallest mountain: Mount Everest.
11. There are 300 unfrozen lakes in Antarctica
In such chilly climates, you’d expect freshwater to freeze, nevertheless, Antarctica has roughly 300 lakes that may’t freeze as they’re underground and remain above 0C on account of the warmth from the Earth’s core.
12. Antarctica expands to twice its size in winter
In winter, the Antarctic Sea advances from the continent by around 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles) per day, ultimately doubling the scale of Antarctica before melting again in the summertime.
13. Antarctica has a ‘bloody’ waterfall
Above is the ‘bleeding’ glacier. It took over 100 years for the reason for the red hue to be discovered
In a distant corner of Antarctica lies a glacier that ‘bleeds’. The deep red water of Blood Falls was first observed in 1911 however it wasn’t until 2017 that scientists discovered the cause. The water flowing from Taylor Glacier comes from a subglacial lake high in salt and oxidised iron, which supplies the falls a bloody hue.
14. The continent homes around 90 per cent of the ice on Earth
The continent is twice the scale of Australia and the most important iceberg recorded is greater than Jamaica at 11,000 sq km (4,247 sq miles). The ice equates to around 75 per cent of the world’s freshwater.
15. There’s even an lively volcano
Mount Erebus (above) is the world’s southern-most lively volcano
Antarctica is home to Mount Erebus – the southern-most lively volcano on the planet – in addition to the one known ‘lava lakes’, which have held liquid magma for eons despite the continent’s frigid conditions.
16. On the south pole, every direction is north
When you stand on the South Pole, you’re on the southernmost point on Earth. It doesn’t matter which way you look – every direction is north.
17. It’s either very sunny or very dark for six months at a time
Antarctica doesn’t have its own time zone. Many of the continent experiences six months of constant daylight in the summertime and 6 months of darkness in winter, so time seems more fluid. Pictured above is a Hurtigruten vessel at Antarctica’s Cuverville Island
Due to Earth’s tilt, the sun doesn’t rise in Antarctica from the vernal equinox to the autumnal equinox, which suggests the continent stays dark throughout all the winter season. Conversely, through the summer months the sun doesn’t set in Antarctica, which suggests it receives more sunlight than the equator during that timeframe.
18. An American scientist was the primary and only person to seek out a match on Tinder in Antarctica
One cold and lonely December night, an American scientist, who was conducting research on Antarctica, decided to go browsing to Tinder for fun. He desired to see if there have been any women out on the icy, lonely continent. After the scientist expanded the app’s location radius, he found one other researcher, swiped right and a couple of minutes later they matched!
19. It’s classified as a desert, and you could find the driest place on Earth
The driest place on Earth is in Antarctica in an area called the Dry Valleys, which have seen no rain for nearly two million years. Moreover, on account of its low precipitation, Antarctica is classed as a desert.
20. Seven species of penguin will be present in Antarctica, and a few are speedy!
Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo, king, macaroni, rockhopper and emperor penguins can all be found on the icy continent. Nevertheless, gentoos are the speedsters of the penguin world. Although they are not strong runners, they’ll take off within the water. When diving, they have been known to succeed in quickens to 22 miles per hour!
Gentoo penguins (pictured) are the speedsters of the penguin world and are certainly one of seven species of penguin present in Antarctica