11 Amazing Antarctica Physical Features That You Haven't Heard Before | Kidadl


11 Amazing Antarctica Physical Features That You Haven't Heard Before

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Antarctica is a remarkable continent due to it being the world's highest, driest, and coldest geographical environment. 

In fact, the Antarctic peninsula is the only continent ice surface that has no permanent human habitation. However, there are some human settlements available for scientists and support staff who carry out scientific research in the region. 

The very popular and unique content of the world Antarctica actually makes up most of the Antarctic region. It was declared a continent only after 1840. The Antarctic is located in a remote area of the Southern Hemisphere that is encompassed by Antarctic convergence. This convergence is one uneven line of latitude where the flowing antarctic waters meet up with the different world's oceans. This southern continent covers almost 20 percent of the total area in the Southern Hemisphere. This is also the region why it is known as the fifth largest continent in terms of the total area of all the western regions. Although it does not have any native population of its own, some nations claim to be a part of it, and thus you can call them the indigenous population of this continent. There are also oceans like Southern Oceans, Pacific Oceans, Indian Ocean, and South Atlantic oceans surrounding Antarctica's ice region but there are no cities. Now, if you always had some kind of fascination with this antarctic ice sheet region and its mountain range, then this article will take you closer to it. From its physical landscape features to different activities surrounding it, we have listed everything about the Antarctic continent you might never hear of. 

If you found this article interesting, then you may also like to read about do penguins live in Antarctica and the Antarctic Ocean facts?

Antarctica And Continental Drift

Like any other Earth's landmass, Antarctica is also affected by continental ice drifts and is amazingly propelled across the face of our planet. Continental drift is the large-scale horizontal movements of continents from another and the oceans basins with one or more episodes of geologic time. The antarctic plate is also known as the tectonic plate that consists of both east Antarctica and West Antarctic ice sheets. 

The idea of this continental drift in Antarctica arrived with a long history. According to theory, continental drift in the antarctic peninsula made Pangaea split into two halves. One was Laurasia, and the other one was Gondwanaland and all that happened 200 million years ago. In return, Laurasia got split into North America and Eurasia. At the same time, Gondwanaland became divided into Africa, Australia, South America, Australia, Africa, and the big Indian Sub-continent. Now the continental drift is causing the southern continent Antarctica to shift its position slowly from Earth. 

Islands And Ice Shelves

There are different islands and ice shelves located around Antarctica, and all of them are situated on the Antarctic plate. The main islands of the Antarctica region are ross Island, South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Island, South Sandwich Islands, and many more. Talking of the ice shelves in Antarctica, the list is much longer, just like islands. However, we will mention a few ones, Filchner Ronne Ice Shelf, Ronne ice shelf, Crosson Ice Shelf, Wilkins Ice sheet, Lazarev Ice Self, and so on. 

If you are wondering what those ice caps or ice shelves are, then here's your answer. Ice Shelf is usually a floating extension of land ice, and ice shelves and different ice sheets surround the entire Antarctic circle. The Ice shelf or ice cap around the Antarctic peninsula is actually retreating and is quite warm from the inside due to the ocean currents. An Antarctic ice sheet cover is even greater than the whole United States and Mexico combined. Today, various scientific research studies have shown that a large section of the West Antarctica ice sheet is losing mass. Therefore it becomes important to keep in mind the continent's isolation, especially for its sea ice, ice shelves, and ice sheets. 

Hidden Lakes In Antarctica

According to the various research stations of Antarctica, there are a total of 150 thick glacial ice lakes in Antarctica. All the lakes exist in most parts of the continent. The melted water runs through the various hollows located below the ice sheets and travels to the land surface to form these subglacial lakes. Many of the lakes in Antarctica are also known for discharging water to several kilometers to different lakes. Out of all the two popular hidden lakes in Antarctica are the Lake Vostok on East Antarctica and Lake Ellsworth connected to the West Antarctica ice sheet. 

There are umpteen reasons why these hidden lakes are an essential feature of the Antarctic continent. Although they are extreme, they are a viable habitat for many unusual lifeforms that might have evolved due to different harsh conditions. All the lakes of the Antarctic ice sheet are located in remote regions, and it becomes tough for the research stations to carry out different technological operations to find deeper details about the antarctic treaty.

There are numerous hidden lakes in Antarctica.

Volcanic Activity Beneath Antarctica's Ice

According to a team of scientists, the research stations have reported that there is an active volcano that has been discovered beneath a glacier in Antarctica. It has been confirmed that there are a total of 91 volcanoes that are present up to 4km of ice sheets in West Antarctica. As science moves forward, we also learned that Antarctica is home to the most extensive volcano range on Earth. The two main subglacial eruptions of Antarctica are Mount Erebus and Deception Island. Both of these volcanoes are famous for their uniqueness to other volcanic activities found worldwide. 

Mount Erebus is the most volcano in Antarctica. In fact, the peak of Ross Islands holds the record of the southernmost volcano on the planet with the volcanic caldera in its prominence. It is also one of the active volcanoes with a persistent lava lake contained in the crater. On the other side of Antarctica, many extinct volcanoes are completely different from what Mount Erebus offers. Deception Island is another active volcano site in the region that is still active but quite the safest harbors of this cold region. 

Midnight Sun And Permanent Antarctic Darkness

The midnight sun, also known as the Polar day of Antarctica, is a scientific phenomenon only seen within the arctic region and arctic circle.  The midnight sun actually occurs due to the planet's angle in the polar summer. A particular pole of the earth is directed towards the sun at an acute angle. And the other pole of the planet experiences an inverse effect where the shadow stays longer than the rest of the planet. At both the north pole and south pole, the sun only rises and falls for one time in a year. During the winter season, the sun stays below the horizon, creates an ambient glow, and leads to permanent Antarctica darkness. 

During this natural period, also called the polar summer, the sun stays above the horizon for 24 hours a day from the south pole. This means that there is no sunrise or sunset, just constant daylight. On the other hand, the six months of winter season experience permanent darkness in the Antarctic region. All these factors influence the physical landscape of Antarctica, and thus it is completely covered with a thick ice sheet that is almost thick and deep by 2.4 mi (4 km). 

After reading this article, you must have realized why there is much hype around this continent. Whether it's about the sea birds or its different active volcano sites, this region is undoubtedly special and different from the rest of the world in all terms.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Antarctica's physical features, then why not take a look at do polar bears live in Antarctica or animals that live in Antarctica

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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