Antarctica is the fifth largest continent of the world. It is the only continent which is isolated and zero populated. It is the driest and coldest continent on earth. It is surrounded by three oceans-the India Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Fabian von Bellingshausen was the first person in the world who discovered the mainland of Antarctica, who came here in 1820 on the ship name “Vostok”. Ramcharan Jee was the first India who reached Antarctica in 1960.
Important Geographical Facts about Antarctica
1. About 98% of Antarctica remains covered with snow permanently. The average thickness of ice-sheet is 2-5 km.
2. There is no coastal plain in Antarctica. Only 2% part of Antarctica becomes ice-free in summers.
3. The Palmer Peninsula is the part of the Antarctica which is ice-free to some extent.
4. It is known as ‘Dynamic or Active continent’ because the shape of the Antarctica changes with the change of season.
5. Vida is a 19m thick ice layer saline lake in Antarctica. Its salinity is equal to that of Dead Sea.
6. Queen Maud Range divides the continent into parts. It contains extensive coal reserves.
7. Mt. Vinson Massif is the highest peak in Antarctica.
8. Mt. Erebus is the only active volcano of Antarctica.
9. The Sun is not visible from 22 March to 23 September and it never set between 24 September and 21 march.
10. Vegetation: Lichen and Moss are the main vegetation of the continent.
11. Penguin well-known flightless bird found in this continent.
12. The Krill is one of the species of fish found here. They live in groups, called shoals.
13. Mineral Reserves: Gold, Silver, Copper, Coal, Manganese, Uranium, Platinum, Chromium etc. have been discovered here but it yet to commercially exploit. This is also because no countries and no portions of the continent are owned by any country apart from the natural hardships.
14. It is also called the “Continent, Dedicated to Science” because the Scientist from various countries are engaged in research activities in this continent.
15. In 1984, India established its centre in Antarctica called ‘Dakshin Gangotri’, to study the structure, climate, fossils environment, minerals and vegetation etc. of this continent which is now completely destroyed.
16. In December 1987, India established a research centre, called ‘Maitri’ to conduct research on environmental science, geology, physiology etc.
17. India established its third research centre ‘Bharti’ on 18 March 2012 in Larseman hill to study oceanography and the phenomenon of continental breakup.
Antarctica’s surreal remoteness, extreme cold, enormous ice shelves and mountain ranges, and myriad exotic life forms invariably challenge explorer to embrace life fully.