Antarctica

Key points

  • Antarctica is a unique and large continent.
  • Many animals have adapted to live in the harsh, cold climate.
  • Exploration for the South Pole occured during the 1800s.
  • Antarctica is an important place for research.
  • No one country owns Antarctica.
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Emporer penguins in Antarctica


Geography

  • Antarctica is the highest, windiest, coldest and driest continent in the world.
  • It is about twice the size of Australia.
  • Many animals adapt to live and breed in the Antarctic or its nearby waters, but very few plants exist in this freezing environment.

History
 

He was a brave soul. He slept through the night hoping not to wake, but he awoke in the morning. It was blowing a blizzard. Captain Robert Scott 1912

From earliest times it was believed there was a great south land, but it wasn't until the late 1700s that there was any dedicated exploration of it. On his travels, Captain Cook saw icebergs in the Antarctic Circle, but he didn't sight Antarctica.

Polar exploration began in earnest in the 1800s with the race for the South Pole.

Australians were involved in several expeditions during this Heroic Era of Exploration (1897-1917).

No one country owns Antarctica, but in 1961 an international Antarctic Treaty came into being to protect it and its surrounding seas. Australia is among seven nations which have claimed territory in Antarctica. The other claimant nations are Argentina, Chile, France, New zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. 


Research
 

Many scientists from Australia and other countries carry out research in Antarctica.

There are a number of issues relating to Antarctica, eg. tourism, global warming, oil spills, harm to the ecology, ozone depletion and overfishing.


What's Antarctica like?
 

Find out what Antarctica is like in real life.

View the live webcam from Casey base in Antarctica.


Wildlife
 

Learn more about the Antarctic wildlife.


We had discovered an accursed country. We had found the home of the blizzard.Douglas Mawson

Experiments
 

Try these experiments at home:


More information

No more remarkable story of human endeavour has been revealed than the tale of that long march.  Sir Ernest Shackleton, in his book South, about some of his men who saved their companions, dragging them on sledges through deep snow and blizzard.

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