antarctica

Article

July 6, 2022

Antarctica or Antarctica (see name question) is the southernmost and the second smallest of the continents (bigger only than Australia), with an area of ​​14 million square kilometers. It surrounds the South Pole, and for that reason it is almost completely covered by huge glaciers (glaciers), except for some areas of high slope in the mountain ranges and the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula. It was formed by the separation of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana approximately 100 million years ago and its cooling took place in the last 35 million years. It is the coldest, driest continent, with the highest average altitude and the highest index of strong winds in planet. The lowest temperature on Earth (-93.2 °C) was recorded in Antarctica, with the average temperature on the coast during the summer being -10 °C; inland, it is -40 °C. Many authors consider it a great polar desert, due to the low rate of precipitation in the interior of the continent. The average altitude of Antarctica is approximately 2,000 meters. Winds with speeds of approximately 100 km/h are common and can last for several days. Winds of up to 320 km/h have already been recorded in the coastal area. Legally, Antarctica is subject to the Antarctic Treaty, whereby the various nations that claimed territories on the continent (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Norway, New Zealand and the United Kingdom United Kingdom) agree to suspend their claims, opening the continent to scientific exploration. For this reason, and due to the harsh climatic conditions, it does not have a permanent population, although it has a temporary population of scientists and support personnel at the polar bases, which oscillates between thousand (in winter) and four thousand people (in summer). Two of these settlements with a regular population (including children) are Villa Las Estrellas (from Chile) and Base Esperanza (from Argentina).

Toponymy

The toponym Antarctica has its origin in the Late Latin antarctĭcus, which in turn derives from the Ancient Greek ανταρκτικός, which literally means "opposite the Arctic" (anti-arctic). However, the form Antártida was conventionally adopted, both in Portugal and in Brazil, even if contradictory regarding the etymological origin of the toponym. A possible explanation would be the analogy with the mythical Atlantis, something that occurs in the same way in Castilian, in which the two forms, Antarctica and Antarctica, also coexist, the former being more widespread. In French, the forms Antarctique and Antarctide are also alternated, while in Italian, Antartide is used, also coined on the model of Atlantide (Atlantis). , although the Antártica form is also used. In Brazil, the Antártica form was preferred until the mid-1970s, when the Antártica form began to gain strength after being used in academic works on the continent, such as the book Rumo à Antártica by the geographer Teresinha de Castro, published in 1976.

History

As there are no native peoples of Antarctica, its history is one of exploration. It is very likely that people from regions close to the continent were the first to explore it: the Aush peoples of Tierra del Fuego, for example, talk about the "land of ice" and a Māori chief named Ui-Te-Rangiora would have reached the region in 650 AD. However, these peoples left no trace of their presence. The first documented expeditions begin in the 16th century. Amerigo Vespucci reported the visual record of land at 52°S. Several expeditions gradually approached the continent without, however, being sure that it was really a continent or a group of islands, until the expeditions of James Cook, the first to circumnavigate it between 1772 and 1775 without seeing it, due to the