Antarctica’s realm of ice covers more than 14 million square kilometres. Temperatures are consistently below zero most of the year which makes life relatively scanty in comparison with the rest of continents in the world. Desolate to the untrained human eye yet perfect for adapted animal species, this is one of the most interesting places on the planet.
The continent as a whole contains about 90 percent of the planet’s freshwater ice and around 70 percent of the total freshwater on earth! Scientists claim that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by about 16 feet.
Another interesting geographic feature hidden under the ice sheet is Lake Vostok. This lake is about the size of Lake Ontario and is one of more than 200 different bodies of water that has been discovered beneath the ice.
Following the line of amazing discoveries, scientists found a canyon during a 2010 expedition that extends 100 kilometres, is more than 9 kilometres wide and reaches depths of more than 1,6 kilometres. Speculations are it could be even larger, but further exploration is required to learn the true boundaries of this massive rift.
Which are the countries with research stations in Antarctica? There are 30 different countries that operate 80 research stations situated around the continent. The human inhabitants who occupy these facilities number around 4,000 during the summer months and only 1,000 during the long, harsh winters.
Pictures by Lorena Berutti – Petermann Island (Nov. 2010).-
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