Learn about the stunning wonders of Antarctica

By Stef Zisovska
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Learn about the stunning wonders of Antarctica

Stef Zisovska
 
 
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Antarctica is one of the most remote and extreme environments on Earth. The severe weather conditions that dominate in this inaccessible region of the planet make exploration extremely challenging. However, scientists never give up and keep making efforts to find out what’s hiding behind the ice and what kind of animals can survive in the continent’s hostile and barren conditions.

It’s not easy to take part in an Antarctica expedition unless you are a part of a scientific research team or a documentary movie crew. Nevertheless, it’s always interesting to learn new things about places that seem so hard to reach.

Lake Vostok

Ice cores drilled at Vostok Station, which is seen in the background
Ice cores drilled at Vostok Station, which is seen in the background

Lake Vostok was discovered by Russian scientists, and it’s the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica. In terms of surface area, it’s the third biggest lake in the world. Lake Vostok is 2.2 miles under the ice surface and was trapped by the ice 20 million years ago. When scientists took an example from the water in 2015, they hit the surface of the lake at 12,500 feet. What’s interesting is that the temperature of the water is 27 degrees Fahrenheit and it doesn’t freeze because of the tremendous weight of the ice that covers it.

The Gamburtsev Mountains

Gamburtsev Mountain Range is 2000 feet below the ice in the east part of Antarctica. The mountain range extends for 750 miles, and its highest peak is 11,200 feet. The temperature below the ice is -112 degrees Fahrenheit. The range was discovered by a group of Soviet explorers in 1957. In recent decades, scientists have spent months producing radar images of the Gamburtsev Range and they have made some remarkable discoveries such as a deep river, mountain peaks, valleys, and liquid lakes beneath the ice surface.

Southern Ocean

Orca (Orcinus orca) hunting a Weddell seal in the Southern Ocean
Orca (Orcinus orca) hunting a Weddell seal in the Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is the world’s fifth and youngest ocean, have been established in 2000. It’s an enormous body of water that entirely surrounds the Antarctic continent. Its maximum depth is 24,000 feet, and it is double the size of the US. The Southern Ocean has powerful currents that play an important role in global oceanic movements. It also absorbs a huge amount of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

Mount Erebus

Mount Erebus is the southernmost active volcano in the world, and it sits on Ross Island in Antarctica. The volcano is 12,400 feet high, one of the most remote and most active on our planet. Its location and the severe weather conditions surrounding it don’t allow scientists to visit the volcano too often, so they mostly take satellite pictures of it. However, in 2013, a small group of brave explorers climbed Erebus and discovered that there are creatures living in the extreme heat of the caldera.

The volcano also has several ice caves where the world’s weirdest bacteria and microorganisms live. The caves are below a thin layer of ice, so this makes climbing the mountain a difficult and risky task.

Amazing Blood Falls

Blood Falls by Peter Rejcek
Blood Falls by Peter Rejcek

Blood Falls are the weirdest looking waterfall on Earth. The water that flows from the Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney has a rust color that comes from iron oxide. The creepy waterfalls were discovered in 1911 and have been a source of fascination for researchers ever since. Theory states that the saltwater lake was formed 5 million years ago.

Scientists consider the Antarctic environment to be similar to the surfaces of other planets and hope to discover how it’s all connected, and what the explanation behind the similarity between the climate of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica and the climate on Mars. Sounds exciting, right?

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