- For the Kim Stanley Robinson novel see Antarctica (novel)
Antarctica (from Greek ἀνταρκτικός, opposite the arctic) is a continent surrounding the Earth's South Pole. It is the coldest place on earth and is almost entirely covered by ice. It is not to be confused with the Arctic, which is located near the Earth's North Pole on the opposite side of the planet.
Although legends and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") go back to antiquity, the first commonly accepted sighting of the continent occurred in 1820 and the first verified landing in 1821. A 1513 map by Admiral Piri Reis, however, contains a southern continent that bears a possible resemblance to the Antarctic coast. (See also History of Antarctica.)
With 13,200,000 km², Antarctica is the fifth largest continent in area, after Eurasia, Africa, North America, and South America. However, it is by far the smallest in population: indeed, it has no permanent population at all. It is also the continent with the highest average altitude, and the lowest average humidity of any continent on Earth, as well as the lowest average temperature.
It has been assigned the Internet ccTLD .aq.
Main article: Climate of Antarctica.
Antarctica is the coldest place on earth. Weather patterns rarely penetrate far into the continent, leaving the center cold and dry. There is little precipitation over the continent, but ice there can last for a long time. Nearly all of Antarctica is covered by an ice sheet that is, on average, 2.5 kilometers thick.
See-also: sea level rise.
Main article: Geography of Antarctica
The continent of Antarctica is located mostly south of the Antarctic Circle, surrounded by the Southern Ocean. Physically Antarctica is divided in two by mountains close to the neck between the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. The portion of the continent west of the Weddell Sea and east of the Ross Sea is called Western Antarctica and the remainder Eastern Antarctica , since they correspond roughly to the eastern and western hemispheres relative to the Greenwich meridian. Western Antarctica is covered by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
See also: Extreme points of Antarctica
Territorial claims of Antarctica
Several nations, particularly those close to the continent, made territorial claims in the 20th century. These claims have little practical relevance due to the Antarctic Treaty which came into effect in 1961, but continue to be observed by cartographers.
Most countries that have observation or study facilities in Antarctica have those facilities within their claimed territory. The Antarctic Treaty defers these claims and most other nations do not recognize them. No other nations have made claims themselves, although the United States and Russia assert the right to do so. All claim areas except Peter I Island (see below) are sectors extending to the South Pole, the borders of which are defined by degrees of longitude. In terms of latitude, the northern border is the 60° S parallel that does not cut through any piece of land, continent or island, which is the northern limit of the Antarctic treaty. The southern border of all sectors collapses in one point, the South Pole.
Argentina: 25°W to 74°W; overlaps Chilean and British claims; claimed 1943 as Antártida Argentina , one of the four departments of Tierra del Fuego - Antarctica & South Atlantic Isles province
Australia: 160°E to 142°02' E and 136°11' E to 44°38' E; claimed 1933 as the Australian Antarctic Territory, one of Australia's seven external territories
Chile: 53°W to 90°W; Overlaps Argentine and British Claims; claimed 1940, as comuna de Antártida , one of the two municipalities of Antártica Chilena Province
France: 142°02' E to 136°'11 E; claimed 1924 as Terre Adélie, one of the four districts of the French Southern Territories
New Zealand: 150°W to 160°E; claimed 1923 as Ross Dependency, as a territory of New Zealand
Norway: 44°38' E to 20°W; claimed 1938 as Dronning Maud Land, a Norwegian territory
Norway: Peter I Island at 68°50' S, 90°35'W, claimed 1929, the only Antarctic claim area that is not a sector, a Norwegian territory
United Kingdom: 20°W to 80°W; overlaps Argentine and Chilean claims; claimed 1908 as British Antarctic Territory, one of the British overseas territories
No formal claims have been made in the sector between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west, except for the Norwegian claim to Peter I Island (see above).
It is usually estimated that at a given time there are at least 1,000 people living in Antarctica. This varies strongly with season. Generally, stations use their home country's time zone, but not always; where known, a base's UTC offset is listed. Antarctica has no permanent residents, but a number of governments maintain permanent research stations on the continent. Many of the stations are staffed around the year. These include:
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, South Pole (United States Antarctic Program)
- Belgrano II , () Laboratory and meteorological station Argentine southernmost base (since 1979).
- Bellingshausen Station , King George Island () (Russia)
Bernardo O'Higgins Station, Antarctic Peninsula, Chilean Army.
Casey, Vincennes Bay (Australian Antarctic Division) (UTC+8)
- Comandante Ferraz Station , King George Island (62°08′ S 58°40′ W) Brazil
Dakshin Gangotri Station, (Indian Antarctic Program)
Davis, Princess Elizabeth Land (Australian Antarctic Division) (UTC+7)
Dumont d'Urville Station (66°40′ S 140°00′ E) France (UTC+10)
- Eduardo Frei Montalva Station and Villa Las Estrellas , King George Island, Chilean Air Force.
Esperanza (63°24′ S 57°00′ W) Laboratory and meteorological station (since 1952). Radio LRA Arcángel, School #38 Julio A. Roca (since 1978), tourist facilities Argentina
- General Artigas Station , (Uruguay)
- Georg von Neumayer Station , (70°39′ S 08°15′ W) (Atka-Bay ) (Alfred Wegener Institute , Germany)
Halley Research Station (75°35′ S 26°34′ W) British Antarctic Survey
Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station (62°10′ S 058°28′ W), King George Island, Poland
- Jubany , (62°14′ S 58°40′ W) (Argentina)
Macquarie Island (Australian Antarctic Division)
Maitri Station, (70°45.58′ S 11°43.56′ E) near Schirmacher Region (Indian Antarctic Program)
- Marambio Station, (64°14′ S 56°37′ W) Seymour-Marambio Island. Laboratory, meteorological station, 1.2Km long, 30 mts. wide landing track (since 1969) (Argentina) website
Mawson Station, Mac Robertson Land (Australian Antarctic Division) (UTC+6)
McMurdo Station, Ross Island (U.S.) (UTC+12, follows New Zealand DST)
- Mirny Station (66° 33′ 07″ S 93° 00′ 53″ E) (Russia)
- Mizuho Station (70°41′ S 44°19′ E) (National Institute of Polar Research , Japan)
- Molodezhnaya Station (67° 40′ 18″ S 45° 51′ 21″ E) (Russia)
- Novolazarevskaya Station , Dronning Maud Land (70° 46′ 26″ S 11° 51′ 54″ E) (Russia)
- Orcadas (60°44′ S 44°44′ W) Orcadas Islands (since 1904)(Argentina)
Palmer Station, Anvers Island (U.S.) (UTC-4, follows Chilean DST)
- Progress Station (69° 22′ 44″ S 76° 23′ 13″ E) (Russia)
Rothera Research Station (67°34′ S 68°08′ W) British Antarctic Survey (UTC-3)
- San Martín Station (68°08′ S 67°06′ W) (since 1951) Laboratory and Meteorological measurements (Argentina)
- SANAE (South African National Antarctic Expeditions), on the Fimbul Coastal Ice Shelf in Queen Maud Land
Scott Base, Ross Island (New Zealand) (UTC+12, follows New Zealand DST)
Showa Station (66°00′ S 39°35′ E) (National Institute of Polar Research , Japan) (GMT+3)
Vostok, Antarctica (78°28′ S 106°48′ E) (Russia) (UTC+6)
Emilio Marcos Palma was the first person born in Antarctica (Base Esperanza) in 1978, his parents being sent there along with seven other families.
Literature set in Antarctica
The Antarctic Treaty prohibits any measures of a military nature in Antarctica, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvers, or the testing of any type of weapon. It permits the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes.
The United States military issues the Antarctica Service Medal to those members of the military who perform research duty on the Antarctica continent.
Educative External links