Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere. At 14,200,000 square kilometres, it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent.
About Antarctica in brief
Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere. At 14,200,000 square kilometres, it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1. 9 km in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. There has been no rain there for almost 2 million years, yet 80% of the world freshwater reserves are stored there, enough to raise global sea levels by about 60 metres if all of it were to melt. Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at research stations scattered across the continent. Organisms native to Antarctica include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. The temperature in Antarctica has reached −89. 2 °C as measured from space (though the average for the third quarter is −63 °C. In 1895, the first confirmed landing was conducted by a team of Norwegians. Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, and thirty-eight have signed it since then. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal, supports scientific research, and protects the continent’s ecology.
Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations. The name Antarctica is the romanised version of the Greek compound word ἀνταρκή, feminine of “opposite to the Arctic”. Aristotle wrote in his book Meteorology about an Antarctic region in c. 350 BC. The long-imagined south polar continent was originally called Terra Australis, sometimes shortened to Australia as seen in a woodcut illustration titled \”Sphere of the winds\”, contained in an astrological textbook in Frankfurt in 1545. In the nineteenth century, the colonial authorities in Sydney removed the Dutch name of New Zealand from the continent, leaving it nameless for some eighty years. Instead of inventing a new name to replace it, they took the name Australia from the south from the polar continent. The first use of the name Antarctic is attributed to the Scottish cartographer George Bartholomew Bartholemew in 1908. It is also known as the “Antarctic Continent” and the “Argentine Continent” The name Antarctic was adopted as the continental name in the 1890s—the first time it was used as the name of the continent by the United States, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. It was first used in the 19th century as a name for the South Pole.