Everyone knows that the coldest continent on Earth is Antarctica. This article will discuss the natural, climatic features of this unusual continent, as well as the history of its study and research.
Antarctica - the coldest continent on our planet
The harsh and inhospitable white desert, the prickly frosty wind, the eternal snow and ice - such Antarctica meets its rare guests. Nevertheless, some find such landscapes the most fascinating on the planet and remain here for a long period in order to conduct detailed geographical research of the continent.
The coldest continent is located in the southern hemisphere. The vast territory (covering almost 14 million square kilometers) is directly adjacent to the South Pole of the planet. It is curious that this is where up to 90% of the global ice is concentrated.
The whole territory of Antarctica today is divided into so-called lands. There are more than twenty of them (Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, etc.).
Most of the continent is covered with an ice sheet, whose thickness in some places reaches several kilometers. Due to this ice cover, Antarctica is often also called the highest continent of the planet.
In Antarctica, only so-called oases (places where even insignificant vegetation cover develops) are not covered with snow, as well as nunataks — rocky mountain peaks protruding from under a layer of ice and snow. In the depths 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, as well as no more than a dozen flower plants, which can be found only on the outskirts of the continent, as well as in oases. The fauna is tied to the coastal parts of Antarctica. Typical representatives of the Antarctic fauna live here: penguins, seals, skuas, petrels, albatrosses and some other species of birds.
Climate and weather in Antarctica
Now it is worth talking 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. There is one reason: 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 one that most of the continent is covered with a snow-ice shield, which reflects up to 95% of all sunlight. However, such reasons are already secondary, which are directly related to the first (and main) reason - this is the geographical position of Antarctica.
The continent's climate is distinguished 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 Fuji Dome. However, on the ocean coast of the mainland in summer, the air temperature may approach zero. Sometimes even a positive temperature is observed. So, in March 2015, a temperature unprecedented for a cold continent was recorded here: +17 degrees!
Generally speaking, the typical weather in Antarctica is strong (often hurricane) cold winds blowing from the center of the continent, low air temperatures and a minimum of precipitation (from 100 to 500 mm).
History of the study of the mainland
The coldest continent of the planet was first discovered at the beginning of the XIX century. After nearly a century, in 1912, the Norwegian R. Amundsen team was also conquered by the South Pole. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Antarctica has been carefully studied by expeditions from around the world.
Today, Antarctica is a territory for science and research. No other economic activity is conducted here. The permanent population of the mainland 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 the rest - only in 1820. Today Antarctica surprises and amazes with its landscapes and natural features. Today, scientists from different states are “managing”, who are engaged in a detailed study of the nature, climate and the organic world of Antarctica.