If you have to choose the coldest place on the planet, probably many of us choose to doubt the continent of Antarctica. Only remote areas like Everest could compete with it. But what do we know about this giant plate of Earth located at the south pole of our planet?
Our mental image of Antarctica may be made up of snow, wind, a lot of white, penguins and the odd scientist investigating around the bases they have installed there. But the thing does not end there. The continent holds many more secrets that, due to its remoteness, most mortals do not know.
We tell you those 10 mysteries of Antarctica that will leave you frozen:
- Eternal nights in winter, days that don’t end in summer – In the southernmost place on the planet, the nights are eternal in winter and the days do not end in summer.
2. More than 1000 inhabitants – This cold territory currently inhabits between 1,000 and 4,000 people, depending on the season. Up to a total of 31 countries operate in more than 60 research centres and international relations are regulated by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty which determines their peaceful use, maintaining the status quo of territorial claims, cooperation for scientific research and conservation. of resources, among others.
3. It is drier than the desert – Although it is surrounded by snow and ice, which is potential freshwater, good hydration is not guaranteed. In fact, there are no trees or shrubs and there are a couple of species of flowering plants that survive around the continent. Also, the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica are the driest place on Earth, with very little humidity and almost no snow or ice on them, making them one of the least biodiverse habitats in the world.
4. The worst cold in the world – There has always been a debate about which cold air is more painful: wet or dry. However, in the middle of that debate, one could sneak in that is undoubtedly the winner: the air in Antarctica. It is so cold that water vapour can freeze in the air, forming tiny ice crystals that then fall to the ground. Antarctica has, in turn, the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth with -89 ° C on its surface, recorded on July 21, 1983, at the Vostok station.
5. It has an active volcano – It may seem impossible, but hot lava also burns in Antarctica, as it has an active volcano called Mount Erebus. Its crater is one of the few permanent lava lakes in the world. There are times when the volcano’s fumarole gets so cold from the temperature that the frozen water vapour forms massive hollow ice towers up to 10 meters high.
6. Grotesque winds – On average, it is the windiest continent, and in some places, it can reach a speed of 320 km / h. They are called katabatic winds, and they blow with the force of a hurricane.
7. A lot of ice, more than you imagine – The ice sheet that covers Antarctica is the enormous single mass of ice on Earth, encompassing 99% of the continent. If these ice were to melt completely, the sea level would rise by an average of 5 meters, according to some estimates.
8. Something more than penguins – Although it seems that they are the dominant of the place, in reality, the most numerous local animals are the tiny nematode worms. However, penguins are the most visible. The only warm-blooded animal left during the harsh winter in Antarctica is the male emperor penguin. It does so to nest the only egg laid by its partner, while the female goes hunting for nine weeks at sea and arrives to supply it at its birth.
9.Great geographies hidden under the ice – The Gamburtsev Mountain Range rises to 3,000 meters and stretches for 1,200 kilometers in the middle of the continent, but is completely buried under up to 4,800 meters of ice. There is also Lake Vostok, which covers an area 18 times larger than our Lake Llanquihue and remains in a liquid state hidden under frozen water, 3.7 kilometers away.
10. An Antarctic “Grand Canyon – “There is a rift that competes with the well-known American landform, which was discovered on an expedition in 2009-2010. It is about 100 kilometers long and 1.5 deep.
11. The first native of the place – In January 1979, Emilio Marcos Palma was born , the first child on the southern continent. It was Argentina who sent this pregnant mother to Antarctica, in order to claim a part of the continent.
12. Full of Starry Meteorites
A few months after the first moon landing, in 1969, a team of Japanese glaciologists made an equally important discovery: the first 9 meteorites found in Antarctica. Since then, the collection has grown to 20,000 copies.