Antarctica is a popular tourist destination. However, there are a limited number of cruises that visit the area every year. This restriction was established to to preserve the wildlife and landscape. There is a lot of information out there about Antarctica and the creatures that call it home. This week, we share a few facts you might not know about this wonderland…
Towering sand dunes, blistering temperatures and most importantly, no water– a desert, right? Well, not quite… The amount of rainfall an area receives determines whether it is a desert or not. As it happens, Antarctica only receives up to 50mm a year. This rainfall is less than the Sahara Desert! Some areas of Antarctica are thought to have not seen rain for around two million years. Approximately 90% of the world’s freshwater held here. It is all frozen in the permanent ice sheet that makes up the majority of this dry and icy land.
The Polar Bear evolved from the brown bear found in North America. Over time it made its home in the nearby Arctic. With Antarctica lacking any nearby landmasses where bears are native, it means no polar bears on the southernmost continent.
As it is mostly uninhabited and is at the convergence of many different time zones, Antarctica does not have its own. Researchers and tourists that pass through observe the time zone of the port they leave or the zone of their own country. With no time zone to follow, at least you won’t have to worry about waking up late!
Beneath Taylor Glacier, you will find “Blood Falls”. The rich red colour comes from the oxidised iron in the briny seawater. A sight unlike any other, the iron-rich waters are a stark contrast to the crisp whiteness of the icy glacier.
Home to two active volcanoes, Antarctica truly is a landscape of geological wonders. Mt Erebus is the most active southernmost volcano and is home to an enormous swirling lava lake. This volcano is special as it is one of the few in the world that is constantly erupting.
Located in the South Shetland archipelago, Deception Island appears as a ring-shaped island. It is however, an active volcano. Known for the largest eruption in the Antarctic area, the island waters are also heated by geothermal activity reaching up to 70 degrees.
There Is More To Icebergs Than You May Think
The word “iceberg” stems from the Dutch word “ijsberg”, which translate to “ice mountain”, and this is a name that is certainly appropriate! With an estimated 50 to 90% of the iceberg lurking below the surface, these ice mountains can be formidable foes for ships. However, it also inspires the imagination– just how deep do some of these icebergs go?
Icebergs also have an interesting way of being categorised. There are two distinct types of iceberg– tabular and non-tabular, which describe whether the iceberg has a flat top and steep sides. Other types include the dome, blocky, wedge, dry dock and pinnacle shapes. Home to a truly diverse range of shapes and sizes, these towering blocks of ice are an incredible sight– they must be seen to be believed!