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Boo Hoo

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Introduction to Antarctica:
Most people know that Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth, but did you know it is the worlds largest desert? or that a giant lake is locked beneath the ice? or that huge volcanoes can be found here?
Antarctica is the fifth largest of the Earth's seven continents. It is the coldest continent located at the southern end of Earth.
Antarctica is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It's remote location and harsh climate of freezing weather and extreme winds makes it impossible for a permanent human population.
The continent was circumnavigated by Captain James Cook in the 18th century, but he never saw it. In the early 20th century explorers were obsessed with reaching the South Pole and eventually it was Roald Amundsen who was the first to reach this point in 1911.

History of Antarctica:
Around 200 million years ago Antarctica was part of the super continent Gondwana. Joined with Australia, Africa, South America, India and New Zealand.
Over time Gondwana began to break into pieces and slowly moved to their present positions.
The word Antarctic comes from the Greek word 'Antarktos' meaning south of the bear or opposite north.
Antarctica is the fifth largest of the Earth's seven continents. It has an area of nearly 14 million square kilometres.
Antarctica was the last continent to be discovered. It was first sighted early in the 19th century, Scientific expeditions and seal hunters explored pieces of the Antarctic coast but had not made it to the South Pole until 1911.

P2.History of Antarctica
P3-5.Early explorers timeline
P7-8.Geography and Geology
P13.Oceans and Seas
P14.Vegetation and Plants
P15. Bibliography
P16. Summary
Timeline of early Explorers

Timeline of early Explorers
During the late 1800's there were many Antarctic expeditions. These were mostly sealers and whalers to all parts of Antarctica. These expeditions were mainly for marine exploration and exploration of the sub Antarctic islands.
* Charles Wyville Thompson - studied Ocean Depths pictured top.
* Adrien de Gerlache - first to survive an Antarctic winter after thier ship the Belgica became trapped in ice.
* Carsten Borchgrevink - Norweigian explorer first to use dogs in their expedition of geological and botanical findings such as birds fish seals and penguins 78˚50'S the furthest South to that time.
* Otto Nordenskjold - Swedish geologist, first sledge expedition. They covered 650km only to find thier ship had been crushed by ice. They spent 2 winters in Antarctica before being rescued by an Argentinian ship.

Otto Nordenskjold

Timeline of early Explorers

The location of Antarctica is between 90˚ South 0˚ East. Antarctica is located in the Southern Hemisphere and is surrounded by the Southern ocean. It is the Southernmost continent on the earth.

Geography & Geology
Antarctica is 1 of only 2 of the world's continents that lie entirely within the Southern Hemisphere. The southern parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans combine to form the Antarctic Ocean.
Antarctica is almost entirely covered by an ice sheet. The Antarctic ice cap covers nearly 100% of the continents surface. Where the ice is the thickest it is over 4 km deep, and beneath it there is a hidden landscape of mountains, valleys and plains.
The ice normally flows from the centre of the continent towards the surrounding ocean, and the Antarctic has thousands of glaciers extending into the sea. Great pieces of ice break away at the coast and drift away as icebergs.
Antarctica is divided into unequal eastern and western portions by the Transantarctic Mountain Chain.

Geography & Geology
East Antarctica lies between the Transantarctic Mountains and the Indian Ocean. Made up of an ice-capped block of geologically old, stable rock, mostly above sea level. East Antarctica is colder than the West because of its high elevation.
West Antarctica has most of its land below sea level a grouping of many ice covered islands known as an 'archipelago', most of the mountains peeks can be seen from above the ice caps and were formed by volcanoes, some of the volcanoes are still active. The highest point is the Vinson Massif at 5140 m above sea-level.
Antarctica consists of many volcanoes like Mount Erebus and Deception Island. The Erebus is the southernmost volcano and Deception Island is known for its massive eruption in 1970. Smaller eruptions and lava flows are common for this region. An underwater volcano was located in 2004 in the Antarctic Peninsula by the American and Canadian researchers. Antarctica wasn't always icy. There have been fossils of plants, dinosaurs mammals, amphibians that scientists believe lived in Antarctica before it became an icy continent.
Antarctica is known as a desert. A Desert is a region that has less than 254 mm of rainfall or precipitation per year. In the interior of the continent the average annual precipitation is only about 50 mm which is less than the Sahara Desert. Along the coast this increases but not by much.
Unlike other deserts, there is little evaporation from Antarctica, so when the snow falls it doesn't go away again. Instead it builds up over hundreds and thousands of years into enormously thick ice sheets.
The climate of Antarctica is the coldest on the whole Earth.
Antarctica has the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever recorded on the ground of Earth. Antarctica is very cold it is the coldest continent on the Earth. It is covered in snow- and ice, with freezing temperatures all year round. The temperature hardly ever gets hotter than 0˚. The coldest temperature -89˚. Thick, heavy snow falls along Antarctica's coast, but very little rain or snow falls in its centre. The wind blows as fast as 241km per hour and creates dangerous snowstorms. Antarctica have 'white outs' storms where the winds blow so much snow around that you cannot see.
Antarctica has 6 months with complete darkness and 6 months where it is always daylight.

The continent of Antarctica is a harsh environment for life. The temperature across most of the mainland never rises above freezing and the continent is covered in ice. Only some lichens are able to survive inland. However the Southern Ocean is full of amazing and incredible creatures. A lot of these species are only found Antarctica. Species found in only one area are called endemic.
Some of the wildlife found in Antarctica are:
* Penguins
* Birds
* Dolphins
* Whales
* Seals
There are no mammals or birds that spend all year living in Antarctica. Penguins are the closest to permanent residents, and emperor penguins are the only animal on Earth that can survive temperatures as low as 50 °C. Most animals leave Antarctica between June and August these are the coldest months.
Of the 35 species of seals only 6 live in Antarctica. They can be found throughout the Antarctic region, with some species living farther south than any other mammal. There are more seals in Antarctica than the Arctic there are more feeding areas and less predators like polar bears. The Weddell Seal, The Ross Seal, the Crabeater and the Leopard Seal are all endemic to Antarctica. | |
The Dolphins and Whales in Antarctica:
Whales, dolphins and porpoises are all known as cetaceans. There are two main types of whales the "baleen whales" these are whales like the humpbacks and the fin whales, and the "toothed whales" these are the dolphins and porpoises. All of these are found in Antarctica.
Blue Whales, Southern Right Whales and Humpbacks were nearly hunted to extinction, but they are now gradually growing again thanks to the international regulation of whaling.
Today the entire area around the continent of Antarctica has been declared an international whale sanctuary.
Most baleen whales like the Humpback Whale migrate over the entire globe. They move from the Antarctic where they feed on krill to the sub-tropics where they breed and spend the winter season.
The most well-known of these species is the Humpback, frequently spotted off the southern coasts when pods pass close to inhabited coastlines during their migrations. Humpbacks reach up to 50 feet in length, and weigh up to 40 tons; they travel in large pods of 200 or more individuals though they are more spread out during their migrations.
The smaller members of the toothed whale family are usually called dolphins. The Hourglass Dolphin is the southern-most dolphin, and the only one frequent in the Antarctic waters from 45˚ to 65˚ South. They are about 2 m long, with black and white markings. Hourglass dolphins live in schools of up to 40 animals.

The wildlife in Antarctica are sea animals, they either live entirely in the sea or depend on the sea for food. The wildlife in Antarctica are well adapted to the harsh conditions of cold seas, ferocious winds, snow storms and freezing temperatures krills, squids, jelly fish, arrow worms, comb jellies, snails, salps, seals, whales, penguins and sea birds like albatrosses, and petrels.

Oceans & Seas
The Antarctic Ocean or the Southern Ocean is made up of the southern most waters of the World. The Antarctic Ocean is the fourth largest among the five main oceans .
The Southern Ocean includes the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (which circulates around Antarctica) and parts of the Drake Passage, a part of the Scotia Sea, the Weddell Sea, the King Haakon VII Sea, the Lazarev Sea, the Riiser-Larsen Sea, the Cosmonaut Sea, the Cooperation Sea, the Davis Sea, the Mawson Sea, the D'Urville Sea, the Somov Sea the Ross Sea, the Amundsen Sea, and the Bellingshausen Sea (in clockwise order).
Vegetation and Plants
As there is less than 2% of the Antarctic Continent that is ice free there is not a lot of vegetation in Antarctica. Most of the ice free area is along the Antarctic Peninsula. There is not much rain to keep the plants hydrated, it's very windy and the temperatures don't allow other plant species to survive.
There are no trees or shrubs. Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwart are the only flowering plants. These plants have to survive the cold and dehydrated conditions.
The Antarctic vegetation are mostly mosses, algae, fungi, macro-fungi and lichens.
Although there are no other plants or vegetation found in Antarctica there have been fossils of vegetation found in the ice and rocks that show there was once similar plants to the ones found in Tasmania.

Bibliography - Icebergs by Jane Elliott
The Race to the South Pole by Nick Saunders
An online visit to Antarctica by Erin M. Hovanec
Polar Eyes by Tanya Patrick
National Geographic November 2012 issue page 66-79
National Geographic July 2012 issue, page 94-115

Since the early discoveries of Antarctica Antarctic exploration became more common with many expeditions taking place over the coming years.
Most of the early explorers were sealers and whalers. The modern explorers are now mostly scientists. Many of the explorers died on their expeditions trying to find the South Pole.
Scientists continue to conduct research in Antarctica, and in recent years tourists have visited Antarctica for the scenery and wildlife.
Some of the wildlife like the Emperor Penguins live in Antarctica all year. Some like the Humpback Whales migrate to warmer areas during the winter June - August. The wildlife that live in Antarctica are dependent on the seas in order to survive. However some of the wildlife species are endemic to Antarctica like the Ross and Weddell Seals.
The weather conditions in Antarctica are very severe. Antarctica has freezing weather all year round, not much rain, very fast winds and snow storms.
Antarctica is an ice covered continent. It has many mountains like the Transantarctic Mountains, some thousands of metres above sea level. Volcanoes like Mount Erebus and Mount Terror, some are active some are not. The East is colder than the West because of the high elevation and there is not much vegetation across the entire continent as there is less than 2% of ice free land.
There are no beautiful flowers just mosses, algae, lichens and other species that can survive without rainfall, and in tough weather conditions.
And to think that Antarctica wasn't always an ice covered continent, it is un imaginable.

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