8 Things You Didn't Know About Antarctica

Though it's larger than both Europe and  Australia Antarctica remains almost  entirely uninhabited this mysterious  continent is home to Hardy

8 Things You Didn't Know About Antarctica
interesting facts, Antarctica, iceberg, frozen, wasteland,

Though it's larger than both Europe and  Australia Antarctica remains almost  entirely uninhabited this mysterious  continent is home to Hardy wildlife and  the occasional scientist but most of the  region remains completely enigmatic but  with advancements in science we are  slowly learning more about this frozen  continent today we are exploring

8 interesting facts about Antarctica

8. We don't normally associate ice and volcanoes but both of these elements  exist in abundance on Antarctica in fact  Antarctica is home to the largest  volcanic region on earth it is home to  at least 91 different volcanoes most of  which are deep although the vast ice  sheet with the highest as tall as the  Eiger which stands at almost 4000 meters  in Switzerland there have been no  eruptions in Antarctica for more than  2,000 years but by some measurements the  region is overdue measuring volcanism in  Antarctica is problematic as the  traditional means of assessing volcanoes  heat and smoke are difficult to assess  in sources buried deep below the ice and  the activity of this range could have  worrying consequences if one of these  volcanoes were to erupt it could further  destabilize West Antarctica ice sheets  set glacier expert Robert Bingham of the  many volcanoes that protrude above the  surface the most active is Mount Erebus  which stands at about twelve thousand  four hundred feet above sea level it is  located in the Ross dependency on Ross  Island which is also home to three  inactive volcanoes Mount Terror Mount  Byrd and Mount Terra Nova the volcano  has been active since about 1.3 million  years ago

7. Though it appears to be a frozen wasteland Antarctica is actually home to plentiful natural resources the  vast majority of the continent is coated  in thick ice making exploration  difficult but the resources are present  all the same  for example 90% of the world's  freshwater ice and 70% of the total  freshwater is stored on Antarctica to  put that in perspective if even a single  ice sheet were to melt the Earth's  oceans would rise by a whopping 16 feet  at the moment Antarctica is mostly a hub  for scientific research rather than  commercial projects but through recent  exploration it is believed to contain  large mineral deposits primarily copper  some also believe that Antarctica is  home to large petroleum deposits but no  one has confirmed this fact due to the  Antarctic  signed in 1959 no commercial mining is  allowed on Antarctica  this was a fortunate choice because the  continent is home to numerous unique  species that would suffer from  large-scale industry it would be further  complicated by the fact that no one  formerly owns Antarctica and opening the  area to commercial pursuits would lead  to a land graph and maybe even a proxy  war among the world's many nations

6. In the vast history of the earth many areas  have undergone cataclysmic changes ocean  floors often become deserts and vice  versa  but would you believe that Antarctica  was once home to a tropical climate in  fact for most of the past 100 million  years whose South Pole was a tropical  paradise it was a green beautiful place  said professor Jane Francis of Leeds  University School of Earth and  environment lots of furry mammals  including opossums and beavers live  there the weather was tropical it is  only in the recent geological past that  it got so cold  the study also underlined the extreme  contrast between modern and past climate  conditions in Antarctica and the extent  of global warming during periods of  elevated carbon dioxide levels in the  atmosphere the exceptionally warm period  55 to 48 million years ago was the  warmest era in the Earth's history  during the past 70 million years this is  particularly important because it means  the atmospheric carbon dioxide is  trapped in the ice from this period as  the ice melts it will release the carbon  dioxide and create a feedback loop if it  continues unabated this will result in a  major climate shift with cataclysmic  results it's possible that an arctic ax  will return to a tropical state in the  near future

5. In total eleven babies have been born on Antarctica and remarkably  none of them died as infants Antarctica  therefore has the lowest infant  mortality rate of any continent at 0%  the first human born on the continent  was Emilio Marcos Palma who was born at  Argentine Army's Esperanza base near the  tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on  January 7 1978 his birth was not  happenstance however at that time  Britain Chile and Argentina were  competing to affirm the sovereignty of  the icy island one way for a government  to demonstrate its commitment in a  certain aura of authority was to  populate the land with native-born  citizens so the Chilean dictator Augusto  Pinochet airlifted a pregnant Chilean  woman on  the barren landscape so she could give  birth to a Chilean baby on an Arctic  soil the ensuing joke apparently was  that Chileans were sending recently  married couples to their own Antarctic  base in order to claim the first baby  both conceived and born in the territory  to this day Chile is the only country  with non-scientific settlements on the  South Pole the latin-american country  has two full-time military outarticals with  populations in the low hundreds

4. Though most of the continent is coated in snow there are parts of Antarctica that have  been dubbed the driest place on earth an  area called the Dry Valleys has seen no  rain for nearly two million years there  is absolutely no precipitation in this  region and it makes up a 4,800 square  kilometer region of almost no water ice  or snow though there are technically  some small water features they have not  had any net gain or loss of water in  over two million years the similarity  between terrain and nature with Mars  surface has allowed NASA to conduct  experiments it became the perfect place  to test the high slope ability of Viking  spacecraft but that pales in comparison  to the friis Hills which have not seen  water in 14 million years the next  driest place in the world is the Atacama  Desert in Chile and Peru there are no  Blazers that feed water to this area and  thus very little life can survive some  weather stations in this region have not  received rain for years while another  station reports an average of one  millimeter per year

3. Scientists from Sweden found a fossilized cocoon in Antarctica containing the world's old  its sperm the discovery of the  fossilized sperm found inside the walls  of a 50 million year old warm cocoon has  been branded remarkable by scientists  the findings published by the Royal  Society in 2015 say that the specimen is  the oldest animal sperm ever found the  prehistoric sex cells belong to a class  of earthworms and leeches called [ __ ]  alotta in date from 50 million years ago  in the early Eocene period when the  first horses rhinos and sheep emerged  the fossil was able to form and survive  so long because the sperm became trapped  in the jelly-like wall of the [ __ ] a lot  of cocoon before it hardened in a manner  similar to bugs becoming trapped in  amber the creature was then fossilized  and preserved over millions of years  spermatozoa being very transient and  delicate are hardly ever preserved in  the fossil  said the lead author of the study the  ancient worm is thought to have secreted  the cocoon while mating egg and sperm  would then be released into the cocoon  and protected by surrounding material  the cocoon finally being sealed it would  take several hours for the surrounding  material to harden biological materials  would then become trapped in this wall  researchers suggest that this is how the  sperm fossil was able to form and be  preserved for millions of years

2. There is a small waterfall near McMurdo Station that has a very distinctive and ominous  appearance called blood falls this  haunting waterfall appears to consist of  human blood due to its bright red color  for years researchers straight away from  these Falls believing that they were bad  luck but in recent years they were able  to explain this strange phenomenon  imaging from underneath the glacier help  solve the mystery revealing a complex  network of sublation rivers and a  subglacial Lake all filled with brine  high and iron giving the Falls its  reddish tint the research team  calculates that the brine water takes  approximately 1.5 million years to  finally reach the blood Falls as it  makes its way through fissures and  channels in the glacier perhaps most  amazingly this unique ecosystem is home  to a community of microbes which has  been present for more than two million  years proving that life can exist in the  most extreme locations

1. The Ross Ice  Shelf is the largest ice shelf of  Antarctica it is several hundred meters  thick the current estimate of its area  is about 182 thousand square miles  making it roughly the size of France the  Shelf has served as an important gateway  for explorations of the Antarctic  interior including those carried out by  many of the most famous expeditions as  the idiom ghost the visible part of the  Ross Ice Shelf is just the tip of the  iceberg though it rises 50 metres above  the surface of the water  the vast majority lies below the oceans  waves just as the rest of Antarctica is  melting the Ross Ice Shelf is slowly  dissolving into the water but it is a  common misconception that the ice shelf  itself leads to rising tides melting of  these ice shelves has no direct effect  on global sea levels since the ice is  already at equilibrium with the  surrounding water but the ice shelves  greatly slow the flow of glaciers on the  continent that would otherwise slide  faster into the ocean causing water  levels to rise if it continues at its  current rate the Ross Ice Shelf could  cause water levels to rise as much as 38  feet