Antarctica is a continent surrounding the South Pole, whereas the Arctic
is an ocean surrounding the North Pole.
Antarctica has three South Poles.
- The South Geographic Pole is the southern pole of the Earth's axis and
is situated by definition at 90° South.
- The South Magnetic Pole is the southern pole of the Earth's magnetic
field. At the South Magnetic Pole, a compass needle will try to point
straight down. The South Magnetic Pole moves about 6 to 9 miles a year
and is currently situated off the D'Urville Sea in East Antarctica.
- The South Geomagnetic Pole (78°28'South, 106°48'East) is the
point at which the flux in the Earth's geomagnetic field is manifested.
Incidentally, the Russian station Vostok is situated at the South Geomagnetic
Pole, which is where the coldest temperature ever recorded occurred.
No rain has fallen in the Dry Valleys for more than 2 million years.
The biggest glacier in the world, the Lambert Glacier, runs through
the Prince Charles Mountains, East Antarctica. It is 248 miles long, 25
miles wide and drains more than 386,000 square miles. It moves at speeds
of up to nearly 3,300 feet per year and is up to 8,200 feet deep.
The first ascent of the Vinson Massif was by an American expedition
in December 1966. The mountain was named after the Congressman Carl Vinson
of Georgia who was instrumental in encouraging U.S. exploration in Antarctica
during the years before and after World War II.
The ancient Greeks were the first to think that a land such as Antarctica
In 1911, British polar explorers, Wilson, Bowers and Cherry-Garrard
camped in temperatures of -61°C (-77°F) during their midwinter
journey to Cape Crozier to seek out Emperor penguins.
In 1801, Captain Edmund Fanning from New England took home 57,000 fur
seal skins from a single voyage to South Georgia.
In 1961, a doctor on a Soviet Antarctic expedition conducted a successful
appendicitis operation on himself.
Four-fifths of an iceberg is situated below the water, so, when you
see one, you really are seeing "the tip of the iceberg!"
No polar bears live in Antarctica.
Sir Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition of 1907-1909 was the
first to use motorized transport in the Antarctic. It proved to be almost
completely useless in the soft snow encountered.
The southernmost church in the world is at Grytviken on South Georgia.
Even in the middle of winter, large areas of open water can persist
in the pack ice. These are called polynas and are important feeding grounds
for marine animals. It is unknown what causes them, but ocean currents
and salinity have been considered to be influential in their existence.
In 1989-90, the International Trans-Antarctica Expedition led by Will
Steger traveled 3,741 miles by dog sled across the longest axis of Antarctica.
One of the dogs, Sam, had also been to the North Pole on a previous expedition.