BAS_10009930Fact file – Antarctica


Did you know

  • The lowest temperature ever recorded in the Antarctic was -89oC at the Russian run Vostok Station
  • Antarctica is more than 58 times the size of Great Britain
  • The huge continent contains 90% of the world’s ice but is technically a desert with snowfall equivalent of just 150mm of water each year
  • The Antarctic ice sheet is up to 4.9km thick
  • Less than 1% of the surface of Antarctica is free of snow and ice
  • The temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has risen by up to 3oC in the last 50 years
  • Antarctic ice holds a unique record of the Earth’s past climate with cores of ice extracted by scientists containing air bubbles some of which date back 800,000 years
  • Antarctica was not always covered by ice – fossils show that in prehistoric times there were forests and dinosaurs lived there
  • The ancient Greeks believed there to be a southern land mass which they called Anti-Arkitos
  • Captain James Cook was the first person to circumnavigate the continent in the 1770s
  • Although covered in ice a variety of animals make Antarctica their home including penguins and seals
  • There are 17 species of penguin in the Antarctic but just two of those species make the main continent their home, (emperor and Adélie)
  • Antarctica has no native human population but is home to scientists and support staff from 28 countries