|Ten Things You Didn't Know About Antarctica.|
By Andrew Skwarek ~ jetsetter.com
Thursday, 10th November 2011
Like most people, when I think of Antarctica, I think cold, like the scene from Titanic, when Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) dies in the icy water, kind of cold.
Just the word makes me want to hug a heat lamp. But, there’s more to this southernmost continent besides its year-round see-your-breath temperatures.
In celebration of our Antarctica Cruise Expedition sale with Abercrombie & Kent, we’ve rounded up 10 remarkable facts about this barren, yet fascinating, landscape that’ll do Ernest Henry Shackleton proud.
1. Antarctica is a desert, even though it holds 70 percent of the world’s freshwater. The annual snow accumulation across much of East Antarctica adds up to less than two inches of rain.
2. The continent is not owned by any country. Currently, 48 countries have signed the Antarctic Treaty, which declares that the land will be used for peaceful purposes only and freedom of scientific investigation shall continue, among other articles.
3. Antarctica was not always at the bottom of the world. About 200 million years ago, it was connected to South America, Africa, India and Australia and the massive landmass was called Gondwanaland.
4. In wintertime, the sea ice around Antarctica grows at the rate of 40,000 square miles a day.
5. Antarctica contains 90 percent of the world’s total ice and 70 percent of its freshwater, but only about two percent of the continent is actually exposed.
6. Antarctica’s ice is so heavy that it deforms the South Pole, and makes the Earth appear slightly pear-shaped.
7. Surprise, surprise: Antarctica holds the top spot for the lowest recorded temperature on Earth, which was -129°F at the Russian Vostok station in 1983.
8. Antarctica is also home to the world’s southernmost marathon – 26.2 miles of freeze-your-tushy-off fun (participants will have to battle an average -4°F wind chill). Suddenly, the Coney Island polar plunge sounds a lot more inviting.
9. Emperor Penguins are endemic to this frozen tundra and are the largest of the 17 penguin species, growing as tall as 48 inches (four feet).
10. Ice, ice, baby! On average, Antarctica’s ice is one and a half miles thick, but its thickest point is three miles.