Antarctica is the World’s fifth-largest continent measuring approximately 14 million km², covering approximately 8.9% of the Earth’s land and 2.7% of the Earth’s surface.
It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and lies almost entirely within the Antarctic circle.
98% of the land area is permanently covered with ice.
The Eastern side of Antarctica is higher than the West. The highest point is Vinson Massif measuring 4,897 m.
Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. The higher, eastern side of Antarctica is colder than the lower west and the peninsula of Graham Land is the warmest region.
Winter temperatures are between -80?C and -90?C while summer temperatures range between +5?C and 15?C.
Antarctica is also one of the windiest places on Earth and the strong winds add a chill factor to the severely low temperatures.
There is very little rainfall even in the warmer peninsula area. Average rainfall measures less than 10cm per year.
Heavy snowfalls are common and can measure as much as 1.2 m in 48 hours.
There are no countries in Antarctica but various regions have been named.
There is no native population, but during the warmer summer months scientists man weather and research stations around the continent.
Because of the extreme cold the only plant life to be found on Antarctica are mosses and lichen.
The only land animals to be found on Antarctica are invertebrates such as mites and lice. The lack of vegetation makes it impossible for other land animals to survive the harsh conditions.
The majority of mammals found on or in the seas surrounding Antarctica are marine species such as seals, orcas and whales.
Antarctica is home to many species of penguins including the Emperor Penguin which is the only species to breed in the winter months.
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2015). Antarctica. Available: http://www.naturalhistoryonthenet.com/Continents/antarctica.htm. Last accessed Thursday, July 21, 2016