Antarctica nature

Historian Notes

Only the most interesting

Whoever has visited this icy continent at least once has made sure that such beauty cannot be found anywhere else. An artist can only dream of such a palette of colors. The sunsets are enchanting with some unearthly beauty: unusual colors are mixed, the tops of snowy mountains, icebergs are highlighted in gentle tones. It all looks like magic. The air is amazingly clean. Polar explorers joke that no bacillus lives here except humans.


The Antarctic island of Galindez is often visited by cruise ships and yachts. During the warm season, the number of tourists from different countries in this corner has already reached five thousand. Doesn't such an invasion of tourist people threaten the ecosystem and fauna of Antarctica? These issues are extremely topical and, among others, were discussed at the Consultative Meeting of the Parties to the Antarctic Treaty in June this year, where the results of the third in the history of the International Polar Year were summed up.

Why are travelers so interested in the corner of Antarctica?

The north of the Argentine archipelago is a very favorable place for the development of tourism. It is much warmer here than in continental Antarctica: frosts reach "only" - 44 degrees Celsius, and "civilization", Tierra del Fuego, is "a stone's throw" - some four days through the Drake Passage.

Further south, ice conditions make it difficult to organize regular tourist flights, and the Argentine Islands are quite convenient for yachts and small boats. In the British press they have long been called the "Antarctic Yacht Club": tourists rent sailboats and travel here with their families. Experienced yacht owners act as captains, and passengers themselves serve as sailors.

The polar explorers call these places “Antarctic Switzerland”. It even has its own Alps - a picturesque mountain range along the Graham Coast, which rises to an altitude of 2000 meters.

However, the most popular among tourists is Peterman Island. Every season it is visited by more than 9 thousand people (almost half of the tourists who arrive in Antarctica).

Half a kilometer from here, on the neighboring island of Winter, there is an outstanding historical landmark - Base F, built by British explorers in January 1947 on the site of the previous building erected for the wintering of the expedition members to Graham Land in 1935-1936 ... The base operated until 1954 as a geophysical observatory. Its main abode, Vorde-Hauz, consisting of residential and office premises, is designed for six people. In 1995, the House of Word, by order of the Queen of Great Britain, was added to the List of Historic Sites and Monuments of Antarctica. Now there is a museum, the caretakers of which are the staff of one of the research stations. Inspection of the exhibition gives an opportunity to feel the echoes of the era of heroic exploration.

By agreement with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), tour groups are allowed to visit the Vordé Hut. Considering that 13-14 of our winterers do not always have the opportunity to accompany sightseers, the head of the station entrusts the head of the group with the keys to the historical landmark. But a tourist is a tourist, so then it turns out that someone grabbed a musical record or matches from 1947 as a keepsake.

The South Pole is located in the center of the Antarctic continent, on an area of ​​more than 2800 sq. meters. The conditional axis of rotation of the Earth passes through it, which from the opposite side penetrates the center of the North Pole. The only people who live in conditions of eternal cold are polar explorers who have arrived for a certain period from all over the world. Stations in Antarctica can be built by representatives of any country, since this territory is not officially assigned to anyone.

How many stations

The only inhabitants of Antarctica are scientists, engineers and research base personnel. Their main activity is the study of meteorological, geological, biological and geographical phenomena in the area.

  • Amundsen-Scott (USA),
  • Davis (Australia),
  • Saint Clement of Ohrid (Bulgaria),
  • Academician Vernadsky (Ukraine),
  • Vostok (Russia),
  • Mirny (Russia),
  • Bellingshausen (Russia),
  • Leningradskaya (Russia),
  • Youth (Russia),
  • Novolazarevskaya (Russia),
  • Progress (Russia),
  • Russian (Russia).

Geographical location of Antarctica

The area of ​​the southernmost continent, which is the fifth largest in the world, is 14.1 million km². Antarctica is also the highest continent, it is almost completely covered with glaciers, the thickness of which can reach 4 km. The shores are washed by the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans; the seas of Amundsen, Ross, Bellingshausen and Weddell are located nearby.

The mainland is divided into two parts according to the nature of the relief. The Eastern Arctic is flatter, covered by the Schmidt, Western and Eastern plains. The western part is distinguished by a more varied relief. It is fenced off by the Transarctic ridge and consists of mountain ranges, plains and mountainous islands connected by an ice platform. In this part is the deepest depression of the continent called Bentley. Its depth, filled with ice, reaches 2555 m below sea level. And the highest mountain is Vinson with a height of 4892 meters.

Climate and relief

The polar continental climate of the South Pole is extremely harsh, the weather is changeable. In winter, the temperature drops to -70 ° С, the lowest degree was recorded at around -89 ° С. In summer, temperatures range from -25 to -45 ° C. Such indicators are recorded in inland areas that are under the influence of the Antarctic High. For the same reason, there are weak winds and less precipitation than on the coast. In total, according to average statistical data, 200 mm of snow falls on the pole per year. The strongest winds in the world blow on the coast of the mainland, they can reach a speed of 90 m/s.

Despite the fact that the relief of Antarctica is covered by an ice sheet, it is well studied and diverse. On the mainland, bisected by the Transantarctic Mountains, there are mountain ranges, plains, so-called dry valleys without ice, ice shelves, coastal areas and individual ridges.

There is little volcanic activity on the continent. The largest volcano Erebus is located on Ross Island. During research of the relief, NASA discovered the largest funnel of asteroid origin on the world map with a diameter of 482 km. According to scientists, about 250 million years ago, an asteroid fell to the Earth, which changed the climate of the area and destroyed the flora and fauna of that era.


Due to the peculiarities of the climate of Antarctica, the local population has not formed here, there are no cities and the capital. Some abandoned buildings speak of human attempts to reclaim these lands, but today there are no local residents here. These are mainly abandoned whaling and military bases.

On December 1, 1959, 12 states signed the Antarctic Treaty in Washington, DC, which put an end to political battles over the status of the continent and determined the strategy for its development for decades to come.

Discovery of Antarctica

Assumptions about the presence of an unknown continent in the region of the South Pole, scientists expressed in ancient times. However, they could not check them for a long time. Dutch, French and British seafarers, including the famous Pacific explorer James Cook, attempted to penetrate south and discover the mythical land, but their ventures were unsuccessful due to the harsh climate of the southern seas.

Everything changed after Russia joined the research. In 1819, the head of the first Russian round-the-world expedition, Ivan Kruzenshtern, proposed to the naval ministry a plan for a trip to the southern polar waters. The authorities supported this initiative. However, the honored captains, who had experience of independent scientific expeditions, were at that time either involved in other research activities, or could not set sail for health reasons.

Faddey Bellingshausen, a young talented officer who took part in the first round-the-world voyage under the leadership of Kruzenshtern, was entrusted with the leadership of the new scientific project. He was assigned to command the sloop "Vostok". Also the sloop "Mirny" under the command of Mikhail Lazarev entered the expedition.

On July 15, 1819, Bellingshausen's expedition left Kronstadt. After clarifying along the way the location of the lands discovered by other sailors, and discovering a number of new islands, Russian sailors on January 28, 1820, at 69 ° 21 '28 "south latitude and 2 ° 14' 50" west longitude, reached the coast of Antarctica.

Russian seafarers were not completely sure whether they had discovered an archipelago or the mainland. In February, they approached the land they discovered several times, and then retreated to rest in Polynesia. After spending almost a year in various parts of the Pacific Ocean, the Russian Columbus headed south again. In January, they discovered the island of Peter I and the Land of Alexander I. It became clear that the land area they discovered was very vast. In August 1821 the expedition returned to Russia.

Antarctic Race

Soon after the Russians, the British expedition of Edward Bransfield and the American whaling ship led by Nathaniel Palmer approached the shores of Antarctica. In the mid-19th century, English, French, American and Norwegian seafarers were exploring and mapping the coast of the new mainland.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of expeditions into the interior of the continent were undertaken. In 1911, a race began between the British and Norwegians to be the first to raise their flag at the South Pole. Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen succeeded in this.

In the first half of the twentieth century, Australia, Argentina, Great Britain, New Zealand, Norway, France and Chile declared separate territories in Antarctica as their possessions. Serious plans for the development of the southern continent were hatched by the leadership of Hitlerite Germany.

Russia (and then the Soviet Union) dropped out of the Antarctic race for a time due to military-political and economic reasons. However, in the 1930s, against the background of the general upsurge of Soviet science and successes in the Arctic, proposals were made in Moscow to return to the southern polar latitudes. For technical reasons, it was not possible to do this before the outbreak of World War II, but in 1938 the USSR People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs issued an official note of protest against Norway's attempts to declare part of Antarctica its territory. At the same time, the Soviet leadership proclaimed the idea of ​​the southern continent belonging to all mankind, which was implemented more than two decades later.

Antarctica is a mysterious and amazing territory. Of the seven continents, it is the least hospitable and therefore the least explored continent. To your attention - 10 most interesting facts about him.

Its dimensions are constantly changing

In Antarctica, sea ice is continually expanding in some regions and decreasing in others. One of the reasons for this is the wind. When it blows for a long time, for example, from the north, the mainland gradually expands in a southerly direction.

These annual fluctuations occur seasonally. The very area of ​​the mainland (land) is about 11.7 million square kilometers; every summer it is surrounded by about 2.85 million square kilometers of ice. In winter, the continent gets much larger. Its area reaches almost 18 million square kilometers. To make it easier for you to imagine these numbers, we note that Europe covers only about 9.8 million square kilometers. It can be concluded that every winter the area of ​​the "pure ice" territory of Antarctica exceeds the size of the Old World.

The ice continent is perfect for collecting space debris

Antarctica is an almost ideal environment for collecting meteorites. In any other place, dark blocks that have flown to us from space, mix with the earth and become invisible. Fragments of meteorites are mistaken for ordinary stones, and more often than not, no one ever finds them at all. At the same time, Antarctica is a snow-white continent, covered only with ice and snow. Therefore, space debris that fell on its surface contrasts sharply with the surrounding background, it is very easy to detect it here.

The icy environment also preserves meteorites well - many of the finds are millions of years old. Therefore, scientists often go here to search for them. Traveling to Antarctica to collect meteorites is cost effective. Looking for them in Europe or America is a thankless job. This fact is confirmed in practice: since 1976, US scientists have collected more than 16 thousand specimens in Antarctica as part of a meteorite search program.

Annual marathons are held here

The absence of a permanent population is not a hindrance to sports competitions in Antarctica. Ellsworth has been hosting unusual marathons since 2004. Participants fly by private jet from South America to a place where the average temperature is between -17 ° C and -12 ° C. The wind blows at a speed of 5-12 m/s. And this is just a small part of the obstacles on the way of athletes. By the way, the marathon takes place at an average altitude of 1000 meters above sea level.

If you don't want the tea in the thermos to freeze in a few minutes, you can take part in the "softer" McMurdo race. It is held on the ice shelf in the Ross Sea. This marathon is often attended by employees of the McMurdo Research Center (United States of America). But it is not always possible to get to the finish line - it all depends on the weather, and it is extremely unpredictable in Antarctica, even in summer.

Antarctica - Special Natural Zone

The continent called Antarctica is a special natural zone. It is so for one simple reason - permafrost, but it is thanks to it that the ice of Antarctica so attracts people of science, travelers and just madmen who want to put their body and spirit to the test. A snow-white plateau, going nowhere, is an incomparable sight, which is worth seeing at least once in your life with your own eyes. But not everyone can dare to spend at least a couple of hours among the glaciers. Time and life are frozen here.

Features of the Antarctic nature

From school, everyone knows that it is colder than in Antarctica, perhaps, only in outer space. And there is no longer and darker polar night anywhere else on earth. Everything around is subject to these conditions: most of Antarctica is a huge ice desert, in which there is simply no plant and animal life. The only "violators" of the silent snow-white tranquility are people who, for research purposes and just out of curiosity, organize bases and set up camps.

It is curious that Antarctica is one of the few large natural objects on the planet that does not legally belong to any state in the world. This allows those who are not afraid of severe frosts and the complete lack of civilized goods for many kilometers around it to explore it without hindrance. Here are some facts about the uniqueness of Antarctica and its natural conditions:

  • The total area of ​​Antarctica is more than one million square kilometers.
  • In general terms, Antarctica has the lowest average and minimum air temperatures in comparison with climatic conditions on any other continent of the planet;
  • The entire continent is located entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, being in the Antarctic and subantarctic belts;
  • Most of Antarctica is covered with a thick layer of ice 4 km thick in some places;
  • times due to the thick ice surface.

Natural conditions of Antarctica

"Worship" to the greatness and power of Antarctica has been going on since time immemorial: as soon as a person learned to travel and reached its shores, a desire to study its natural mysteries arose in him.

The first thing that people understood and felt when they set foot on the shores of Antarctica was extreme cold. The entire continent lies on the Antarctic plate, as a result of the fracture of which the entire surface has risen and has an uneven texture. It is washed by three oceans: Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. The continent has several large islands - the Land of Alexander I, Deception and Clarence. To the north is the Arctic Peninsula, and in the territory closer to the Pacific Ocean there are many flat parts and several mountain peaks, which are called nunataks.

They rise significantly above the icy surface of the mainland. In the east, there are many fairly deep depressions. Also on the territory of Antarctica there is a mountain system, unique in its nature, which is completely hidden under the ice cover, the Gamburtsev Mountains. Scientists claim that their size can be comparable to the famous Alps.

The coastline of Antarctica stretches for almost 30 thousand km and has a fairly homogeneous structure without pronounced "kinks", but with a number of high cliffs from the ice. Also in nature there are both active and dormant volcanic systems. Due to the special relief structure and unique position in the arena of world politics, there are many natural resources and minerals on the mainland. Abundant deposits have been found in over 150 metric locations. It is known that they contain iron, copper, chromium, manganese, nickel, coal, mica, as well as deposits of precious metals (gold and platinum), precious stones and gems. Also, oil reserves were discovered here, which are represented in significant quantities.

As for water, Antarctica has a colossal reserve of fresh water: about 80% of the world level is concentrated here. There are at least 140 lakes under a huge layer of ice. The largest of them is considered "Vostok", which has a depth of 1200 m.

There is no summer in Antarctica in the classical sense: it is very cold here at any time of the year. On average, the air temperature in Antarctica is at a negative 60 degrees Celsius. In summer, the snow-ice cover reflects the sun's rays of the active sun, and due to the longer duration of the daylight period, the air manages to heat up to - 30. And on the coast, even 0 degrees are periodically recorded. The lowest temperature was observed in the distant 1983 and showed a record -89 degrees.

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