Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure black alignment spacer
alignment spacer About Antarctica and the Subantarctic
Interesting Facts
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  • 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 may exist.

  • 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.
  • alignment spacer Home
    About the Film
    Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition
    Shackleton's Leadership Role
    About Antarctica and the Subantarctic
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    Interesting Facts
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    About Glaciers and Pack Ice
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    Wildlife
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    Travel--Then and Now
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    Interesting Websites
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    Where to See the Film
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    Photo Credits: 2001 WGBH and White Mountain Films, LLC, Photo: Reed Smoot

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    shadow background  2001 WGBH Educational Foundation