Antarctica

Article

January 23, 2022

Antarctica - the southernmost continent on which the geographic South Pole is located. It is located in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Arctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It is the only continent that is permanently and completely uninhabited by humans and not used economically. With an area of ​​14.2 million km², it is the fifth largest continent after Asia, Africa, North America and South America, almost twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by a polar ice cap, an average thickness of 1.9 km, which extends to all but the northernmost tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. In terms of average conditions, Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent, and has the highest average altitude of all continents. Antarctica is considered a desert continent, with an annual rainfall of 200 mm along the coast and much less inland. The temperature in Antarctica drops below -90 ° C. The continent has no permanent inhabitants, but 1,000 to more than 4,000 people stay at research stations scattered across the continent each year. Only organisms adapted to cold can survive in Antarctica, including many species of archaea, bacteria, fungi, protists, some plants and some animals, including nematodes, tardigrades, penguins, pinnipeds, and mites. Plant communities are tundra. Although speculations and myths about Terra Australis Incognita ("Unknown South Land") date back to antiquity, it was not until 1820 that members of the Russian expedition of Fabian Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on the ships "Vostok" and "Mirnyj" were the first to see the shore of the continent (more precisely, the ice shelf) . Throughout the rest of the 19th century, it remained largely unexplored due to its hostile environment, lack of available natural resources, and isolation. Antarctica is governed jointly by countries that have voting rights under the Antarctic Treaty system. The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries; 54 countries have signed it so far, including Poland. It prohibits military activities and the extraction of mineral resources, the conduct of nuclear tests and the storage of nuclear waste, supports scientific research and protects the fauna and flora of the continent. Scientific research is carried out by over 4,000 scientists from many countries.

Origin of Antarctica's name

The name "Antarctica" is a Latinized version of the Greek word ἀνταρκτική (antarktiké), a female form from ἀνταρκτικός (antarktikos), which means "opposite to the Arctic", "opposite to the north". An alternative explanation refers to the constellation Ursa Major (Greek: Μεγάλη Άρκτος, Megale Arktos), the name of the continent would indicate that it lies "opposite to the constellation Ursa Major". Before the term was adopted as it stands, the term was used to describe other places "opposite north". For example, in the 16th century, the short-lived French colony in Brazil was called "France Antarctique", and the animals and plants of the southern hemisphere were sometimes referred to as "Antarctic". For the first time, the name "Antarctica" was used to refer to the continent in 1840 or 1841 by the polar explorer Charles Wilkes, the creator of the first maps of its coasts. The name was first introduced on maps in the 1890s by the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew.

Discovery History

Antarctica has no indigenous peoples and there is no evidence that it was seen by humans until the 19th century. However, the belief in the existence of Terra Australis - a vast continent in the far south of the globe to "balance" the northern

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