Antarctica is a wondrous place and we are going to introduce you to it with these interesting facts about Antarctica for kids! Antarctica is not only the coldest place on earth but also the driest, highest, emptiest and windiest. Located at the South Pole, nearly 98% of the 14 million square kilometres of Antarctica is covered with ice sheet, which is about 90% of world’s ice. All that ice amounts to 70% of the world’ freshwater! One can find lots of whales, seals, penguins, fish and krill in the waters around Antarctica. However, as per research studies, no permanent land mammals or native people can be found on Antarctica.
Temperature & Seasons
Around 50 million years ago, Antarctica enjoyed a temperate climate. There were evergreen forests all around and various kinds of animals lived there. However, most animals living there in ancient times were wiped out due lowering temperatures and the formation of the ice caps. Scientists have proven this with evidence, such as fossils of ferns and forest creatures found in Antarctica.
Today, the temperature in Antarctica averages -70 degrees F (-57 C) annually. Temperature has gone as high as 63.5 degrees F (17.5 C) and has been as low as 128.6 degrees F (-89.2 C).
Those areas that lie 60 degrees south enjoy a long day and a long night every year. The sun here sets in the month of March and rises only in October. Summer season in Antarctica is from October through February and winter season from March through September.
Union Glacier Antarctica
Photo Credit: Christopher Michel
Research in Antarctica
Various unique projects are going on in Antarctica on penguins, whales, global warming, meteorites, astronomy, UV rays, volcanoes and glaciology, for instance. Research is also ongoing on humans in Antarctica and how the human body gets used to the cold there. Scientists are also studying the reaction of the human mind and heart to extreme isolation conditions.
Who Discovered Antarctica?
Antarctica was not found until 1820 and no one had reached Antarctica until 1895. The first man to reach Antarctica was Henryk Bull. The first woman to reach Antarctica was Catherine Mikkelson, wife of a Norwegian whaling captain, in the year 1935. The first man to reach the South Pole was Roald Amundsen in the year 1911. Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian and soon to follow him was Robert Scott, a British explorer.
Animals that Live in Antarctica
Only invertebrate animals can live in Antarctica throughout the year and Beligica Antarctica is the largest of them all. Yet, it is so small that it can be seen only through a microscope!
During the winter season, only warm blooded animals can live in Antarctica including seals, whales, penguins and sea birds. Krill is another tiny crustacean that lives in the seas here and acts as the balance for the world’s oceans because they are the main source of food for crab-eating seals, baleen whales, such as the Humpback Whale and Adelie penguins.
Photo Credit: Christopher Michel
One can find various types of penguins in Antarctica, around 21 species. Various kinds of seals that can be found in Antarctica include Weddell Seal, Crab-eater, Ross Seal, Leopard seal, Fur Seal and Elephant Seal.
Blue whale, Southern Right Whale, Minke, Sperm Whale, Hourglass Dolphin, Killer Whale (Orca), Southern Bottlenose Whale, Humpback Whales and the Rightwhale Dolphin are some of the varieties of whales found here.
There are also a number of species of Penguins that inhabit Antarctica including the biggest penguin of all, the Emperor Penguin.
Survival of Humans in Antarctica
Antarctica is a harsh place with unimaginably cold temperatures. To survive these conditions a person would have to wrap themselves in layers of warm clothes. Certain body parts, such as ankles, feet, wrist, hands and head, should be covered in synthetic fibers. People like scientists staying here need to wear insulated footwear and their clothes should be dry at all times to prevent hypothermia.
During the summer when outdoors it is important to wear wrap-round UV resistant goggles and sunscreen due to fierce UV radiation. Moreover, survival in Antarctica is largely about staying in teams and looking after each member and checking for signs of hypothermia and frost-nip.
People visit Antarctica via the Antarctic Peninsula. Also known as the Banana Belt, this part of Antarctica is full of wildlife and has a mild climate compared to rest of the continent.
Map of Antarctica
Image Credit: Christopher Michel
- Did you know Antartica is a desert even though it has 70 percent of the world’s freshwater?
- During the winter season, the ice in the sea surrounding Antarctica expands 40,000 square miles (130,600 square kilometres) every day.
- It is so cold in Antarctica that if steel is exposed to the freezing temperatures, it will shatter into millions of pieces, while water will explode into ice crystals.
- Antarctica frequently experiences downhill winds, also known as Katabatic winds. These winds can reach speeds of 185 miles per hour (298 kph).
More interesting facts about Antarctica for Kids