Ice Axe has been guiding in Antarctica for over a decade.
ANTARCTICA – THE COLD HARD FACTS
- Antarctica is the Earth’s 5th largest continent, measuring 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles).
- The ice sheet that covers almost all of Antarctica is the largest body of fresh water on Earth, containing about 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of the fresh water.
- If Antarctica’s ice sheet were to melt, it would raise the level of the world’s oceans about 60 meters (200 feet).
- The thickest part of the ice sheet extends about 4800km (2980m) (15,700 feet) into submerged basins in the rock.
- Antarctica has the greatest average elevation of any continent at 1860 meters (6,100 feet). The average elevation of North America is 720 meters (2,300 feet).
- The highest mountain on the continent is Vinson Massif, 4898 meters (16,077 feet), situated in the Ellsworth Mountains.
- The snowfall in Antarctica is so minimal that the continent has been called “the world’s coldest desert.” The interior receives less than 9 cm (12 inch) of precipitation a year, making it the driest continent on Earth.
- The Antarctic dry valleys in Victoria Land are among the driest places on Earth. Some scientists believe that no rain has fallen there for two million years. Astronauts have visited the dry valleys because of their similarity to lunar landscapes.
- During winter months, low temperatures cause much of the seas around Antarctica to freeze. At maximum, sea ice covers an area larger than the continent itself.
- The South Pole experiences a six month period of darkness in winter and a six month period of sunlight in summer.
- Antarctica is the only continent in the world with no permanent or indigenous human inhabitants. Larger than the United States, the frozen land is populated by approximately 2,500 people during the summer and fewer than 1,000 in the winter.
- 12 nations originally signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959. The Antarctic Treaty is up in 2041.The industrialized nations will have to decide to exploit it for its natural resources or make it a world park for science and exploration.