Among all the seven continents in the world, Antarctica is very unique. It has always been a continent that fascinates kids when they read about it. We have gathered informative and interesting Antarctica Facts for Kids that will not only give them a complete overview of the continent but also answer all the questions that might come to their minds about Antarctica. School kids will find these Antarctica facts for kids very helpful in completing their home assignments and school research projects on Antarctica.
Antarctica Facts for Kids
What is Antarctica?
- Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent, lying in the southernmost part of the earth.
- Geographically, it is situated in the Southern Hemisphere and covers the South Pole.
- It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and covers an area of 14 million square kilometers.
- It is famous for the Lemaire Channel and Paradise Harbor (Passageways flanked by iceberg), and Port Lockroy (research stations turned into a museum).
- Its isolated terrain is home to rich wildlife, including penguins.
- It covers an area of 5.4 million square miles.
Description of Antarctica
- Almost whole Antarctica is covered with ice. Only 2% of Antarctica has no ice.
- The thickness of the ice covering Antarctica is 1.9 km.
- Antarctica is the coldest, iciest, driest, and windiest continent on earth.
- The mean annual precipitation of Antarctica is very low, hence it is also called a polar desert.
- There are no permanent residents in Antarctica due to extremely cold weather.
- Antarctica has about 70% of the freshwater of the earth.
- As we move away from the coastal areas of Antarctica, the weather gets colder and drier.
- The inland temperature falls to -100°F or more from May to August.
- It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean (combination of Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans)
Physical Features of Antarctica
- Antarctica is approximately two times the size of Australia and fifty times the size of the UK.
- It is approximately equal to the combined size of the USA and Mexico.
- It has a roughly circular shape with a long arm extending towards South America.
- The nearest land masses to Antarctica are
1. South America (600 miles away)
2. Australia (1550 miles away)
3. South Africa (2500 miles away)
- The size of Antarctica doubles in winters due to the ice formed around the coasts.
- The actual boundary of Antarctica is the Antarctic Convergence.
- It contains almost 90% of the total ice of the earth.
Geographical Features of Antarctica
- Antarctica is the largest piece of ice on the surface of Earth.
- The elevation of the Antarctic ice sheet above sea level is 2,000 meters near the sides of the continent and 4,000 meters near the center of Antarctica.
- This ice sheet’s further size increases when it snows in winter.
- The ice surface increased in size from 1.2 million square miles to 7.3 million square miles during winter.
- The ice sheet primarily grows at the coastal ice shelves (floating ice sheets connected to the continent), the Ross Ice Shelf, and the Ronne Ice Shelf.
- Antarctica has some mountain summits, out of which a few are higher than 4,500 meters.
- Without any ice, Antarctica would convert into an archipelago of the mountainous island (Lesser Antarctica) and a large landmass (Greater Antarctica) equivalent to the size of Australia.
- Great Antarctica contains igneous and metamorphic rock.
- Lesser Antarctica contains volcanic and sedimentary rocks.
- The oceans surrounding Antarctica are 4,000 to 5,000 meters in depth.
- Antarctica is the only continent entirely covered with one ice sheet.
- This ice sheet is divided into two parts; the East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets. These sheets have different histories and physical characteristics.
- The center point of Antarctica lies in the Eastern Hemisphere according to the Prime Meridian.
- Only 0.32% of Antarctica is free of glacier ice.
- Antarctica is divided into two parts:
1. East Antarctica (Greater Antarctica)
2. West Antarctica (Lesser Antarctica)
- These two parts are separated by the Transantarctic Mountains.
- These mountains are stretched all around the continent and mostly buried under ice.
- West Antarctica would be a group of islands if the ice sheets were removed.
- 98% of Antarctica is covered with ice, which contains 70% of the earth’s fresh water.
- Antarctica is the highest of the continents due to its thick ice cover.
- The ice shoot is not smooth because it is continuously moving.
- There are two active volcanoes on the continent:
1. Mount Erebus (3,794 m)
2. Deception Island
- The highest active volcano in Antarctica is Mount Erebus.
- There are some Dry Valleys located at high altitude areas with extreme aridity.
- A pyramid-shaped mountain has been discovered recently in Antarctica.
- Some professors say it is just a mountain that has the shape of a pyramid by coincidence
Antarctica Land Area
- Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent with an area of 14 million square kilometers (5.4 Million miles)
- It is approximately two times the size of Australia and fifty times the size of the UK.
Where is Antarctica located?
- Geographically, Antarctica is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere and covers the South Pole.
- It is entirely south of the Antarctic Circle (66.5°S)
- It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean.
- It contains both the magnetic and geographic South Poles.
Is Antarctica a Country – Is Antarctica a Continent?
- Antarctica is not a country, it is a Continent.
- It is managed according to the Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959.
How many Countries are in Antarctica?
- There is a total of 48 countries in Antarctica from around the world.
How big is Antarctica – Antarctica size
- Antarctica is ranked fifth in size among all the continents.
- The area of Antarctica in summer is 14.2 Million square kilometers.
- Its area doubles in size in winter due to the formation of ice around the coasts.
- It is larger than the continents of Australia and Europe.
- It is approximately two times the size of Australia and fifty times the size of the UK.
- It is almost 1.5 times the size of the USA.
- Any region that receives less than 10 inches (254 mm) of annual rainfall or precipitation is classified as a desert.
- Antarctica is considered a desert due to the rarity of moisture falling from the sky.
- The inner regions of Antarctica receive about 2 inches (50 mm) of precipitation per year, in the form of snow. It is lesser than the Sahara Desert.
- The outer regions of Antarctica receive about 8 inches (200 mm) of precipitation per year, which is still lesser than the minimum.
Do people live in Antarctica?
- Yes, there are some scientists and research workers who live temporarily in Antarctica.
- There are 70 research stations in Antarctica owned by 30 countries.
- These research stations are manned by scientists and other staff.
- Apart from the people working at the research stations, no human beings are living in Antarctica.
Who lives in Antarctica?
- There is some scientists and research stations staff who live temporarily in Antarctica to work at the research stations.
What is the population of Antarctica – Antarctica’s population
- The population of Antarctica varies with climate:
1. 4000 in Summer
2. 1000 in Winter
How many permanent residents?
- No permanent residents are living in Antarctica.
Plants in Antarctica
- Antarctica has absolutely no bushes or trees at all.
- The vegetation in Antarctica is limited to:
1. 350 different species of mostly mosses, lichens, and algae.
2. 3 different species of flowering plants.
- Most of this vegetation is found in the northern areas and coastal areas of Antarctica.
- In some areas, red, yellow, and orange Lichens have colonized on bare rocks.
- Some algae have been discovered growing inside the rocks due to the harsh weather conditions outside.
What animals live in Antarctica – Animals of Antarctica
What kind of animals live in Antarctica?
- There are two types of vertebrates in Antarctica:
1. Migratory Vertebrates which leave the continent in winter
2. Vertebrates dependent on the sea for food
- Thus, the only land animals on Antarctica are invertebrates (Animals with sizes in millimeters).
- Some of these invertebrates are:
3. Nematode Worms.
- These invertebrates survive the winters by freezing themselves under the rocks.
- All the bodily functions of the invertebrates are stopped while frozen.
- The bodies of invertebrates have antifreeze which helps them in becoming active again in summers.
- The oceans surrounding Antarctica are bustling with animals. Some of the animals depending on the oceans are:
1. Whales feeding on marine life (mostly Krill)
2. 6 species of Seals
3. 12 species of birds
- The most famous bird of Antarctica is the Penguin.
- The most famous predator in Antarctica is the Leopard Seal. It hunts penguins and fish.
Antarctic Animals list
- The vertebrates living on/around Antarctica are:
- Emperor Penguins
- King Penguins
- Adélie Penguins
- Weddel Seal
- Crab-eater Seal
- Leopard Seal
- Wandering Albatross
- Snow Petrel
- Antarctic Skua
- The invertebrates living in Antarctica are:
- Nematode Worms
What is the Climate in Antarctica?
- Antarctica is the coldest and windiest continent.
- The lowest temperature recorded in Antarctica was -89.2°C (-128.6°F) in 1983.
- Very strong winds blow on the continent continuously for large periods.
- The fastest wind speed ever recorded was 327 km/h (199 mph) in Antarctica in 1983.
- Antarctica is divided into three climatic regions:
- Interior of Continent – Very cold with fewer precipitation rates
- Coastal Areas – Mild temperatures and higher precipitation rates
- The Antarctic Peninsula Region – Warm and Wet climate with comparatively higher temperatures in summer.
- Blizzards are very common in Antarctica. The strong winds move the already fallen snow from one place to another.
How cold is Antarctica – How cold is it in Antarctica
- The coldest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica is -89.6°C.
- The average winter temperature is -49°C.
- The average summer temperature ranges from -26°C to -3°C.
What best describes the climate of Antarctica
- Your home freezer is only -15°C. Hence, it is extremely cold in Antarctica throughout the year.
Why is Antarctica cold?
Following factors contribute to the cold weather of Antarctica:
- The maximum amount of sunlight and heat is available at the equator because sunlight strikes straight (right angle).
- As we move away from the equator towards the poles, the amount of available sunlight and heat decreases because the angle of incidence of sunlight decreases from 90 degrees.
- So, less amount of sunlight and heat is spread over a larger area as compared to the equator.
- For every 100 meters rise in altitude, the temperature falls by 1°C.
- Antarctica is the highest continent with an average elevation of 2,300 meters above sea level.
- Antarctica is a very huge landmass.
- The only areas affected by the sea temperatures are the coasts.
- Apart from the coasts, Antarctica is not affected by sea temperatures. So, it stays cold for very long periods.
Does it rain in Antarctica?
- Yes. but rainfall or snowfall is very rare in Antarctica because it is a desert.
- It rains only in coastal areas when the temperatures are above freezing level.
- When it snows, the snow builds up over a large period to form thick sheets of ice.
Seasons in Antarctica
- There are only two polar seasons in Antarctica – summer and winter.
- In summer, the sun doesn’t set for 6 months.
- In winter, the sun doesn’t rise for 6 months.
Living in Antarctica
- The living conditions in Antarctica are currently not suitable for ordinary people.
- Only researchers and scientists live temporarily in Antarctica for research purposes.
Antarctic Treaty Facts
- During the early 20th century, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Norway declared territorial claims to parts of Antarctica.
- In 1959, these nations signed a treaty called the Antarctic Treaty.
- According to this treaty, these nations put aside their territorial claims in interests of cooperation in scientific research.
- In 1994, another protocol was approved to the treaty which banned oil and mineral exploration on Antarctica for 50 years.
Amazing Facts about Antarctica – Antarctica Fun facts
- Antarctica has considered a desert even though it holds 70% of the fresh water on Earth.
- Some areas of Antarctica are so identical to the areas on Mars that they have been used by NASA for testing space equipment.
- The lowest temperature ever recorded on Antarctica is –89.6°C (-129°F).
- Fire is one of the most dangerous things in Antarctica. It is very hard to stop a fire in Antarctica due to the lack of water.
- Antarctica wasn’t always cold. Fossil discoveries have shown that about 50 million years ago, Antarctica had green forests with lots of animals and birds.