Everybody knows perfectly well that the coldest continent on Earth is Antarctica. This article will deal with the natural, climatic features of this unusual continent, as well as the history of its study and research.
Antarctica is the coldest continent on our planet
A stern and inhospitable white desert, a thorny frosty wind, eternal snow and ice - Antarctica meets its rare guests like that. Nevertheless, some find such landscapes as the most enchanting on the planet and stay here for a long period to conduct detailed geographical studies of the continent.
The coldest continent is located in the Southern Hemisphere. The vast territory (with an area of almost 14 million square kilometers) is directly adjacent to the South Pole of the planet. Curiously, it is here that up to 90% of the world's ice is concentrated.
The entire territory of Antarctica is now divided into so-called lands. There are more than twenty of them (the land of Victoria, the land of Wilkes, etc.).
Most of the continent is covered with an ice shield, the capacity of which in some places reaches several kilometers. Due to this glacial cover, Antarctica is often called the highest continent of the planet.
In Antarctica, only so-called oases (places where even a slight vegetation cover develops) are not covered with snow, and also nunataks - rocky mountain peaks sticking out from under ice and snow. In the bowels of the continent significant reserves of various minerals (coal, iron ore, copper, lead and others) have been identified, but they are not mined (according to international agreements).
The organic world of Antarctica is unusually poor. The flora of the continent is represented by mosses, lichens, and not more than a dozen floral plants that can be found only on the outskirts of the continent, as well as in oases. The animal world is tied to the coastal parts of Antarctica. It is inhabited by typical representatives of the Antarctic fauna: penguins, seals, skuas, petrels, albatrosses and some other species of birds.
Climate and weather in Antarctica
Now we should talk a little about the weather and climate features of this continent. The answer to the question of why Antarctica is the coldest continent is quite obvious. The reason is one: the continent is almost entirely located in the polar and circumpolar regions, which receive a minimum of solar energy. There are other reasons. For example, the fact that most of the continent is covered by a snow-ice shield that reflects up to 95% of all the sun's rays. However, the causes of this kind are already secondary, which are directly related to the first (and main) cause - this is the geographical position of Antarctica.
The climate of the continent is characterized by extraordinary severity, especially in its central, inland part. So, the lowest temperature on the planet (-91 degrees Celsius) was recorded right here at the Japanese station "Dome of Fuji". However, on the oceanic coast of the continent in summer, the air temperature can approach zero. Sometimes even a plus temperature is observed. So, in March 2015, here was recorded a temperature unprecedented earlier for the cold continent: +17 degrees!
Generally speaking, typical weather in Antarctica is strong (often hurricane) cold winds blowing from the center of the continent, low air temperatures and minimum atmospheric precipitation (from 100 to 500 mm).
History of the study of the mainland
The coldest continent of the planet was first discovered in the early 19th century. Almost a century later, in 1912, the team of the Norwegian R. Amundsen was conquered and the South Pole. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Antarctica has been carefully studying expeditions from different countries of the world.
Today Antarctica is a territory for science and research. There is no other economic activity here. The permanent population of the continent is 3-4 thousand people. All of them are scientists living in 40 international Antarctic stations.
The coldest continent of the Earth was discovered later than all others - only in 1820. Today Antarctica is surprising and amazing with its landscapes and natural features. Today, only scholars from different countries are "hosted" here who are engaged in a detailed study of the nature, climate and organic world of Antarctica.