12 Facts You Didn't Know About Antarctica
The icy continent of Antarctica may not be as popular of a destination as Europe or the Caribbean, but for those who can make the trip to the end of the world, it’s an unforgettable one.
Its barren landscape is seemingly untouched by humans, as there is no population native to this part of the world, and only a few scientists live there at any given time. Approximately 98 percent of the land is covered in ice.
The Antarctic is an especially great destination for people interested in nature travel and climate science. It has long been a site for biological research, and climate scientists have become fascinated by it in recent years. Since NASA began collecting satellite data in the late 1970s, Antarctica has lost an average of 20,800 square miles of ice per year. So visit while you can.
Exploration of Antarctica
No one could confirm the existence of the main land of Antarctica until the 1820s in a mission carried out by U.S. and British explorers.
At least 17 different species of penguin live in Antarctica, and the Adélie penguin has called the continent home for the past 45,000 years, according to National Geographic. However, with the climate changing, up to 60 percent of the land could be inhabitable for these penguins by the end of the century.
Bigger Than the U.S.
Antarctica is the fifth largest continent in the world, consisting of 5,405,430 square miles — making it nearly 1.5 times the size of the U.S, according to the CIA World Factbook.
A Famed Explorer's Hut
Tourists can hike to visit the hut of famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, with the lodgings practically frozen in time as they would have been 100 years ago.
Nobody Calls Antarctica Home
No humans are indigenous to this continent, meaning animals rule Antarctica.
Not Just Cold, the Coldest
Antarctica clocked the coldest temperature ever recorded, coming in at 128.56 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Live Science.
Killer Whales and Environmental Health
Scientists study the health of killer whales to determine the health of the ecosystem at large, as they are one of Antarctica's top predator's, CBS News reported. Researchers can now use advanced drones that analyze a whale's breath to learn about their diet, according to the same report.
Luxury ships have established cruises that sail to Antarctica, allowing visitors to explore a vast portion of the landmass.
Houses of Worship
There are several churches on Antartica, including one called the "Chapel of the Snows" that was rebuilt twice.
Winds Faster Than Cars
Winds here can get up to nearly 200 miles per/hour.
You Won't Fall Through
The average thickness of ice on Antarctica is 1 mile.
A massive iceberg began to break free in April 2017, according to NASA satellite images, which could lead to overall disintegration of the ice shelf, Live Science reported.