Antarctic Climate

importance of the climate of antarctica

Antarctica is the fourth largest continent in the world and the southernmost (southernmost) continent. In fact, its territorial center is located at the South Pole of the Earth. Its territory is almost completely (98%) covered by ice up to 1,9 km thick. The Antarctica weather It has been studied in great detail in order to understand everything found in this ecosystem.

In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the climate of Antarctica, its evolution and importance to the world.

frozen continent

cold in Antarctica

Since we are talking about the coldest, driest and windiest place on Earth, ordinary life in Antarctica is almost impossible, so has no native population. It is only populated by different scientific observation missions (approximately 1.000 to 5.000 people throughout the year) with bases within its borders, generally on the Antarctic Plateau.

In addition, it is the most recently discovered continent. It was first observed by the Spanish navigator Gabriel de Castilla (c. 1577-c. 1620) in the southern summer of 1603. Until the end of the 1895th century, when the first Norwegian fleet landed on the coast in XNUMX.

On the other hand, its name does come from classical times: it was first used by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) around 350 BC. In his Meteorology, he named these regions "facing the north" (hence their name from the Greek antarktikós, "facing the North Pole").

Characteristics of Antarctica

global climate regulation

Antarctica has the following characteristics:

  • The surface of the continent is larger than Oceania or Europe, and is the fourth largest continent in the world, with a total area of ​​14 million square kilometers, of which only 280.000 square kilometers are free of ice in summer and 17.968 km2 along the coast.
  • A large group of islands are part of its territory, the largest being Alexander I (49.070 km²), Berkner Island (43.873 km²), Thurston Island (15.700 km²) and Cany Island (8.500 km²). Antarctica has no indigenous population, no state, and no territorial divisions, although it is claimed by seven different nations: New Zealand, Australia, France, Norway, Great Britain, Argentina, and Chile.
  • The Antarctic territory is governed by the Antarctic Treaty, in force since 1961, which prohibits any form of military presence, mineral extraction, atomic bombing and disposal of radioactive material, as well as other support for scientific research and the protection of the ecoregion.
  • It has many subglacial freshwater deposits such as Onyx (32 km long) or Lake Vostok (14.000 km2 of surface). In addition, the region contains 90% of the Earth's ice, which contains 70% of the world's fresh water.
  • Antarctica is the southernmost region on Earth, within the geographic South Pole and the Antarctic Circle, below the Antarctic Convergence Zone, that is, below latitudes 55° and 58° South. It is surrounded by the Antarctic and Indian oceans, adjacent to the Pacific and South Atlantic oceans, and is located only 1.000 kilometers from the southern tip of South America (Ushuaia, Argentina).

Antarctic Climate

Antarctica weather

Antarctica has the coldest climate of all the continents. Its lowest temperature of all time is also the lowest recorded on the entire planet (-89,2 ° C), and its eastern regions are much colder than the western regions because it is higher. The minimum annual temperature in winter and the interior of the continent usually around -80°C, while the maximum annual temperature in summer and coastal areas is around 0°C.

In addition, it is the driest place on Earth and liquid water is scarce. Its interior areas have few humid winds and are dry like a frozen desert, while its coastal areas have abundant and strong winds, which favor snowfall.

The geological history of Antarctica began about 25 million years ago with the gradual disintegration of the Gondwana supercontinent. For some stages of its early life, it experienced a more northerly location and a tropical or temperate climate before the Pleistocene ice age covered the continent and wiped out its flora and fauna.

The western part of the continent is geologically similar to the Andes Mountains, but it is possible that there is some life in the low-lying coastal areas. In contrast, the eastern region is higher and has a polar plateau in its central region, known as the Antarctic Plateau or Geographic South Pole.

this elevation extends more than 1.000 kilometers to the east, with an average elevation of 3.000 meters. Its highest point is Dome A, 4093 meters above sea level.

Antarctic wildlife

The fauna of Antarctica is scarce, especially with regard to terrestrial vertebrates, which prefer subantarctic islands with less harsh climates. Invertebrates such as tardigrades, lice, nematodes, krill and various microorganisms.

The main sources of life in the area are found in low-lying and coastal areas, including aquatic life: blue whales, killer whales, squid or pinnipeds (such as seals or sea lions). There are also several species of penguins, among which the emperor penguin, the king penguin and the rockhopper penguin stand out.

Most signatories to the Antarctic Treaty have scientific research bases on the continent. Some are permanent, with rotating staff, and others are seasonal or summer, when temperatures and weather are less brutal. The number of bases can vary from one year to another, being able to reach 40 bases from 20 different countries. (2014)

Most summer bases belong to Germany, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, South Korea, United States, France, India, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Russia, Poland, South Africa, Ukraine, Uruguay, Bulgaria, Spain, Ecuador, Finland, Sweden, Pakistan, Peru. The winter bases of Germany, Argentina and Chile remain in Antarctica during the harsh winter.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the climate of Antarctica and its characteristics.


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  1.   Caesar Salad said

    Enriching this topic like all the ones that you offer us to multiply knowledge. Greetings