Most of the area around Antarctica is the continent of Antarctica. The Antarctic, located in the Southern Hemisphere, is a frigid, encompassed region that is engulfed by the Antarctic Convergence. Read about Life In Antarctica. Where the icy, northward-moving waters of Antarctica and the milder waters of the world’s oceans converge is a line of latitude that is uneven. Twenty percent or so of the Southern Hemisphere is made up by the Antarctic.
Long before humans evolved, a bigger land mass known as Gondwana parted from Australasia and South America to form the Antarctic continent. Gondwana settled over the south pole. Since around 35 million years ago, there haven’t been any land bridges connecting Antarctica to the rest of the world; it has existed alone as an island.
According to overall area, Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent. (It is bigger than both Oceania and Europe.) The absence of a native human population makes Antarctica a distinctive continent. Although seven nations—New Zealand, Australia, France, Norway, the United Kingdom, Chile, and Argentina—claim various portions of Antarctica, the continent itself has no countries. Because of its distance, temperature, and choppy waters, Antarctica was already too isolated for primitive peoples to find.
Before anyone could sail far enough south to even glimpse Antarctica for the first time, it wasn’t until 1820 that human technology and navigation were sufficiently advanced. There are a number of shaky claims that people first set foot on the Antarctic continent around 1820, but several historians consider the year 1899 as the first time this happened. There were no humans there when the first travelers arrived in Antarctica.
Who lives in Antarctica? How many people live in Antarctica?
Tourists and residents of scientific research stations or bases are the two primary groups of people who visit or reside in Antarctica. No one can live in Antarctica as long as they do in the rest of the world. There are no commercial industries, no cities or towns, and no permanent residents.
Scientific bases are the only “settlements” with longer-term residents (who stay for a few months to a year, possibly two). The summer season in Antarctica lasts from October/November to March/April, while the rest of the year is regarded as winter. These vary in size, but normally have 50 people there in the summer and 15-20 in the winter.
In total, there are 66 scientific bases in Antarctica; around 37 of them are occupied full-time, while the rest are open during the summer and closed during the winter. During the summer, there are roughly 4,000 people and each winter, there are roughly 1,000.
Fewer people stay over the Antarctic winter (when there is little likelihood of transportation in or out), when the majority of occupants of research stations live there “summer only,” which can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. A normal tour lasts about 15 months, consisting of one summer or winter and the two summers either side (this period is uninterrupted, with no trips home or elsewhere in between). Some used to commonly reside for two winters and three summers, but this is rare now.
Some people have experienced a “enforced” winter, in which case the ship that was supposed to transport them home was unable to do so due to ice conditions and had to leave them behind until the following year. A ship cannot pass through again for at least another six months as a result.
This could indicate three successive summers and winters, or at the very least, an unexpected extra Antarctic winter season. Thankfully, these incidents were uncommon, and they had little effect on the participants’ mental health, which made it more difficult for them to reintegrate into their home environments.
The closest base to a settlement is the US facility at McMurdo Sound, which can house up to 1,000 people during peak hours. Antarctic bases are more like military bases or oil rigs than communities because of the high rate of population turnover.
In Antarctica, there are two locations that are occasionally referred to be “towns” for civilians. The first is the Chilean Villa Las Estrellas facility on King George Island, which is a part of the South Shetlands group and is located off the western edge of the Antarctic Peninsula. There are about 80 people living there in the winter and just over 100 in the summer.
At the very tip of the Antarctic Peninsula at Hope Bay is the Argentinian Esperanza facility, which has 55 winter residents. They both include facilities like a school, a hospital, a gym, etc., but it would be more accurate to classify them as affiliations of the military and scientific operations.
A record-breaking 55,489 people visited during the 2018–2019 season, according to the statistics. 47,225 people reached their highest point in 2007–2008, and that number dropped to 26,509 in 2011–2012. The decrease was brought on by the ban on bigger ships visiting Antarctica due to the risk of fuel spills, even though Antarctica is now more popular than ever as a tourist destination. You can work in Antarctica as a scientist or in scientific support, but you must apply for the position before you travel there.
If you really want to, if you have the necessary qualifications, and if you persevere in case you are not accepted the first time (many people have to apply more than once), you can go spend some time in Antarctica and have an unforgettable experience. I’ve done it for two winters and three summers, and I’ve been recommending it ever since.
Is Everyone Access To Antarctica?
The Antarctic Treaty places restrictions on access to Antarctica. You will need to ask your own government for approval if you wish to plan your own excursion or expedition there. You must demonstrate your ability to support yourself totally on your own and that you have a very excellent purpose for traveling that will have little to no negative effects on the environment. You must also detail how you plan to accomplish these goals.
If you can’t do these things, you won’t be granted permission and will breach the law (of your own country) if you go anyway. You will also break the law if you remain longer than you intended to or take any other actions that are prohibited under the Antarctic Treaty.
In this area, the Antarctic Ice Sheet is dominant. It is the single largest piece of ice on Earth. In times of intense snow and ice, this ice sheet even extends outside the continent.
At the end of summer, the size of the ice surface is about three million square kilometers (1.2 million square miles), and by winter, it is about 19 million square kilometers (7.3 million square miles). Coastal ice shelves, especially the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ronne Ice Shelf, are where the ice sheet grows the fastest.
Sheets of ice that are connected to the continent by floating shelves are called ice shelves. 10 to 1,000 meters (33 to 32,808 feet) of glacial ice are transported annually from the interior of the continent to these lower-elevation ice shelves.
There are many mountain summits in Antarctica, notably the Transantarctic Mountains, which separate the continent’s eastern and western parts. Some of these summits are more than 4,500 meters (14,764 ft) high. The Antarctic Ice Sheet itself rises to an elevation of roughly 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level and eventually reaches 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level close to the continent’s center.
Without ice, Antarctica would form a single enormous continent around the size of Australia, known as Greater Antarctica, and a massive peninsula and archipelago of mountainous islands, together known as Lesser Antarctica. These regions have different geologies. The majority of the Lesser Antarctica’s islands and archipelagos are volcanic and extensively glaciated. Several tall mountains can be seen there as well.
The climate in Antarctica is extremely cold and dry. Typically, the coast of Antarctica experiences wintertime temperatures between 14° and -22°F (-10° to -30°C). Coastal regions can see summertime temperatures as high as 9°C (48°F), but they typically linger around 0°C (32°F).
Extremely cold temperatures, with winter lows below -60°C (-76°F) and summer highs below -20°C (-4°F), are found in the mountainous interior regions. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -89.2°C (-128.6°F), which was measured by Russia’s Vostok Research Station in 1983. Using satellite data from 2010, an even lower temperature was discovered: -93.2°C (-135.8°F)
In the Antarctic, it is challenging to measure precipitation. It always falls as snow. It is estimated that just 50 to 100 millimeters (two to four inches) of water (in the form of snow) fall over the interior of Antarctica each year. The Antarctic desert is one of the driest deserts in the world.
The Antarctic continent plays a significant part in the processes that shape the world’s climate. It is important to the Earth’s overall heat balance. The link between the heat absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and the heat reflected back into space is known as the heat balance, sometimes known as the energy balance.
In maintaining the balance of Earth’s heat, Antarctica plays a larger role than most other continents. Compared to land or water, ice reflects light more. Solar radiation is reflected away from the surface of the Earth in vast quantities by the massive Antarctic Ice Sheet.
The amount of reflection off the surface of the Earth reduces as the amount of global ice cover (ice sheets and glaciers) decreases. This enables the Earth’s surface to absorb more of the sun’s energy, leading to an uneven heat balance that contributes to the current phase of climate change, global warming.
The final big frontier for human exploration, according to several European and North American powers, was Antarctica. The “Race for the Antarctic” attracted a large number of explorers, who were motivated by nationalist pride and helped by advancements in science and navigation.
The boundaries of Antarctica were initially skimmed by explorers while at sea. Explorers first began to travel through Antarctica’s interior in the early 20th century. These missions’ goals were frequently less scientific and more competitive. More than learning about Antarctica’s ecosystem, explorers were more interested in winning the “Race to the South Pole.”
This time period was dubbed the “Heroic Age” because early explorers had to overcome formidable challenges and oppressive circumstances. Race to the South Pole competitors included Ernest Shackleton, Edward Adrian Wilson, Robert Falcon Scott, and Roald Amundsen.
Amundsen of Norway and Scott of the United Kingdom started their missions in 1911 in the aim of becoming the first man to reach the South Pole. On October 19, Amundsen’s crew departed from the Bay of Whales in the Ross Sea, while Scott departed from Ross Island on November 1.
Different strategies were used by each team, with varying degrees of success. The crew lead by Amundsen traveled up to 64 kilometers (40 miles) each day using dog sleds and skiing to reach the pole. As opposed to Scott’s group, who used horses to pull their sleighs, the geologists on Scott’s team used human strength.
The South Pole was first reached on December 15 by Amundsen’s team. The group left Antarctica in good condition and with no problems. On January 17, 1912, Scott’s team made it to the South Pole, but they were malnourished, exhausted, injured, and snow-blind. They all died on their journey home.
Through the encouragement of international scientific interaction, the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–1958 attempted to end Cold War differences within the scientific community. In the Antarctic, the IGY sparked a flurry of scientific investigation. The first research stations were built on Antarctica and numerous nations launched their first Antarctic explorations.
Just 12 nations—Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—established more than 50 Antarctic stations during the IGY.
These countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1961, which stipulated that no nation or group of people could claim any part of the Antarctic as their own territory, that the area could not be used for military operations or the disposal of radioactive waste, and that all scientific research must be conducted peacefully.
The Antarctic Treaty does support territorial claims made by New Zealand, Australia, France, Norway, the United Kingdom, Chile, and Argentina prior to 1961. The extent of these claims cannot be altered under the terms of the treaty, and no new claims may be submitted. The treaty specifies, most importantly, that any treaty state has unrestricted access to the entire region.
As a result, research facilities have been built within each of these geographical claims and are funded by a number of treaty states. The Antarctic Treaty has been signed by 47 nations today.
The Antarctic has become a symbol of climate change. Scientists and policymakers are focusing on changes in this environmentally sensitive region to push for its protection and the sustainable use of its scientific resources.
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