Did You Know?

Get a few fun facts about Antarctica

January 06, 2014

Gentoo penguins gather in their natural environment in Antarctica.

• Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent, following Asia, Africa, North America, and South America.

• The 1961 Antarctic Treaty calls the continent a “pristine laboratory of worldwide significance.”

• The lowest known land point in Antarctica is in the Bentley Subglacial Trench. It is the world’s lowest elevation not under seawater.

• Antarctica holds about 70% of the Earth’s fresh water.

• Precipitation is so sparse on the continent that it is classified as one of the world’s driest deserts.

• Although the sun shines continuously in the summer months, the rays hit the land at too sharp an angle to melt the ice.

• At the South Pole, the average temperature is -56.2 degrees F and the record high is 7.5 degrees F.

• According to findings from a NASA satellite, temperatures in East Antarctica dipped to -135.8 degrees F in August 2010. That is the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth. On July 31, 2013, that mark was almost reached again when the temperature plummeted to -135.3 degrees F.

• U.S. explorer Admiral Richard Byrd called Antarctica “the last continent of silence.”

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