This ice country was undiscovered for a while. The severe nature, hard and heavy-going ice in the seas around it, as well as high marginal barriers made it isolated from the outer world.
The key element of the sixth continent is its location: almost the whole continent, the area of which is two times bigger than Australia is located inside the Antarctic Circle. The Antarctic is thousand kilometers far away from other parts of the world. The distance from its only peninsula corner point to South America exceeds 1000 kilometers.
The climate hardness of the Antarctic is also extraordinary. The world’s cold pole is located on its territory.
The lowest registered temperature on our planet reached -89,2C degrees in the East scientific station.
The Antarctic explorers called one curious phenomenon as the “voice of the snow”. You can hear the vague and restless cries that come under the feet of the man. It is simply explained: the Antarctic snow is too dense and when a man walks it, the creak sometimes resembles a muffled querulous voice.
The powerful storm winds are also frequent in the Antarctic. It’s interesting that during the summer polar day the most solar radiation enters the central area of the continent exceeding even the radiation that the Earth’s surface gets. One of the reasons for that is the exacting cleanliness and the transparence of air over the Antarctic.
Snow and ice reflect 85% of total incoming radiation, while dark massive rocks take up 8% of the sunlight energy, get heated and also heat the environmental air.
Another specific feature is the sudden air temperature difference throughout the continent. The coast temperature ranges from 0 in summertime to -20-30 degrees in winter, while plateau glacier marks -30-40 degrees in summer and up to minus 70-80 degrees in winter.
The powerful ice layer covers nearly the whole continent. Only around 0,3% of the surface is an ice-free area.
The Antarctic continent has 4 poles. Besides the South and dip poles, there are also cold pole and wind pole on the continent.
The first deep well on the continent was drilled from the surface to the bedding rock in 1968 at the Byrd Station. It was 2164 meters deep. While exploring different ice layer temperatures, it turned out that starting with 100-150 meters it gradually increases. According to the calculations, the placer rock bed has the temperature of 1,6 degrees, which means that the fresh ice melting point is 1,6 degrees if to take into account the 2km deep pressure. Therefore, the scientists think that the placer rock bed gets melted at the expense of the incoming warmth from the interior of the Earth. The melted water is stored at the topographic lows (basins) and forms subglacial lakes there.
The glacial shell of the Antarctic was formed 250-30 million years ago.
If it could suddenly melt, it would strike the planet with a dramatic catastrophe: the water level of the World Ocean would rise up to the extent that the part of the land, where half of the world population would submerge.
However, the scientists have calculated and reported that the average annual air temperature should increase at least 16% to make the Antarctic ice-free. And with the current climate conditions, it’s just impossible even if the global warming occurs.
The thickest ice was marked at 4,78 km and was registered in the Antarctic using the depth indicator, which was set at the board of the research plane 400km away from the coastline of Wilkes Land.
What is the average glacier weight?
It took several hours for the Kazakhstan glaciologists to weigh over 100 gletchers at the Dzhunghar Alatau mountain range. The radar system set up in the plane was used for weighing. With the help of this device the eternal ice over the clouds was explored throughout its thickness.
And moreover, the echo sound was recorded. Its analysis enabled to define the fresh water content canned inside the gletchers. They found out that one gletcher has about 10-15 million cubic meters of the first water.