Despite the harsh conditions of the most southern continent, tourism has been rising with over 44,000 tourists traveling to Antarctica in 2016/2017.
The risk of the freezing climate in a desolate ice-covered land is outweighed by the wonders to be seen in this region.
A lot of this rise in tourism has to do with ice caps melting, so people believe they must see its preserved state while it lasts.
There are also some of the most interesting facts about Antarctica that keep people ditching the beach for some time on the ice.
Here are some characteristics of Antarctica that will have you booking your next trip there.
1. Antarctica Wasn’t Sighted Until the 19th Century
Traveling through the rough waters leading toward the south pole kept many explorers from reaching its icy mainland. But, this doesn’t mean that they didn’t try for centuries.
Britishman, Captain James Cook discovered several southern islands after being the first to cross the Antarctic Circle but never made it to the continent.
However, it was after Cook’s death that the Russian Czar Alexander I sent an expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen to get the first glimpse of Antarctica in 1820.
2. It Contains the World’s Largest Desert
You might think that snow means moisture, but these Antarctica facts about its climate will have you confused.
The valleys have almost no humidity and are not covered by ice or snow. This desert environment is the biggest in the world reaching over 13.8 million square miles. It also gets very little rainfall and produces tremendous wind storms.
Besides the occasional Antarctica tours for enthusiastic explorers, it is also the most deserted place on earth.
3. The Most Fresh Water
Whether in liquid on solid-state, the amount of water on the continent is one of those facts about Antarctica that will make you grateful it exists.
That is because it hosts about 90% of the world’s fresh water supply. However, we should be even more grateful that most of the water is in the form of ice. If it melts, the sea levels would rise over 200 feet throughout the world.
4. There Are Hidden Mountains and Lakes
The ice is so dense in Antarctica that tall mountain peaks and a huge lake are buried beneath it.
You would think that the 9,000-foot Gamburtsev Mountains stretching across 750 miles would be easy to spot, but not when there are 15,000 feet of ice covering them.
Then there is the largest lake on the pole, Lake Vostok, which hides its freshwater under 2.5 miles of ice. Scientists have even found over 3,500 species of bacterium and even possible fish living in this harsh underground environment.
5. It Has an Active Volcano
Cool facts about Antarctica can also be as hot as a volcano. And in this case, Mount Erebus is the most lively volcano in the southern region of the earth.
The volcano is so active that is created one of eight live lava lakes persistent throughout the world. The lake has been active since 1972 and can produce explosions of lava outside the crater.
Where else can you see a frozen glazier volcano spewing liquid hot magma?
6. Born on Ice
The most desolate place on the planet still allows mother nature to thrive. And even though no permanent settlers live on the icy surface, some babies can call it their native land.
In 1978, the first baby, Emilio Marcos Palma, was born in Antarctica, making him the first native-born citizen. His mother gave born to her son at one of Argentina’s large base camps on the continent.
Only 10 other people have been born in the freezing cold of the south pole since then.
7. Complete Sun or Darkness
If you are afraid of the dark or get sunburn then you will love these Antarctica facts and information.
The sun can stay up for months during the summer season when you go past the Antarctic Circle. After that, you won’t see light for another few months.
This can be an unusual experience that some visitors look forward to or it can be torture for researchers who just want to get some shut-eye.
8. The Saltiest Lake
If you travel to east Antarctica you will find a lake that never freezes, Deep Lake. This is due to its high levels of salt. In fact, it is nearly 10 times saltier than the nearby oceans.
It also makes the ecosystem a harsh habitat for life to survive. There are only four species that live in it. These organisms are microbes mainly from the Archaea family.
They are the only ones that love the salt and the temperatures that can reach to -20C.
9. Mingling of Oceans
Since Antarctica lies at the center of the south pole it is surrounded by several of the planets major oceans. And the West Wind Drift makes a westward current that mixes all of these oceans together.
The Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans become indistinguishable as they are constantly moving around Antarctica making one big ocean sometimes called the “Southern Ocean.”
Interesting Facts About Antarctica and Global Warming
The most interesting facts about Antarctica are its vulnerability to climate change. East Antarctica is already starting to change as ice caps melt and leak into the ocean.
If we want to continue to enjoy the beauty of Antarctica and, frankly, keep the planet livable, then we must address the warming climate caused by CO2 levels rising.
Visit the news section of our site to see the latest on the melting ice caps and research being done in Antarctica.