- Antarctica is 1,478,600 square miles, (13,829,430 km2), which is about 1.4x the size of the USA, and about 1,215x the size of our home state of Rhode Island!
- The coldest temperature ever recorded on earth – −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) – was at Vostok Station, Antarctica on July 21, 1983.
- About 90% of the ice on earth is found in Antarctica’s ice sheets, and that ice makes up about 68% of the freshwater on earth.
- If all this ice were to melt, sea level would rise by 60 to 65 meters (about 200 feet!) around the world.
- The tallest mountain in Antarctica is Mt. Vinson, at 16,050’ (4,892m)!
- Fifty million years ago Antarctica had a temperate climate, evergreen forests and many more kinds of animals than it has today. As the icecap slowly formed, most of the animals that lived there in ancient times were obliterated. Evidence of this once warm climate is in the fossils of plants, including fossil ferns, found by scientists.
- Because Antarctica lies in the southern hemisphere, seasons there are the opposite of seasons in the north — summer runs from October to February and winter covers the remainder of the year.
- Much of Antarctica is very dry; at the South Pole they only get an average of 0.8″ of snow per year!
- The ice can be more than 4 km thick in some places. This ice flows off the continent and creates floating ice shelves over the ocean; these shelves break up and create icebergs.
- Activities in Antarctica are governed by the Antarctic Treaty, which encourages science and the free sharing of scientific knowledge, while preventing environmental degradation, territorial claims and military uses.
- Although Antarctica has only 2 flowering plant species, it is home to 200 species of lichens!
- Their name means Brightly shining (Euphausia) magnificent (superba).
- Antarctic krill are one of the most abundant animal species on the planet, with an estimated total weight of about 100 million metric tons!
- Krill can live up to 5 or possibly 7 years
- Krill can grow to a length of up to 6.5 cm (2.5 inches), about the size of your index finger.
- Antarctic krill are bioluminescent – they produce a bright blue light from 10 photophores along their undersides.
- Krill can lay 10,000 eggs at a time!
- When trying to escape a predator, krill swim fastest going backwards, flipping their tail in a behavior called lobstering.