Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 51: Antarctica

The Ice Continent

So we have spent almost an entire year (!) learning about a different country each week, yet we left out an entire continent!!  Well, we are going to remedy that this week, we are studying Antarctica!!

The continent of Antarctica is the windiest, driest, coldest, highest and emptiest place on the earth.  It doesn't really qualify as a country because no one lives there and there is no government or capital, language or culture.  So what is there? 

Actually, there's a lot going on.  There are numerous scientists and explorers doing experiments on wind, cold, the animal life, astronomy, etc. etc.  There are 21 different species of penguins that can be found on or around the 5.4 million square miles that make up the vast continent.  Over 95% of that land is covered by ice, some of that ice is over a mile deep.  90% of the world's ice and 70% of the freshwater is held here.  

There are no land mammals or native people on Antarctica.  But around 50 million (give or take) years ago, the region had a temperate climate and forests and animals.  Those fossils are somewhere underneath that ice!  Think of all the cool new scientific finds just waiting to be discovered!! 

The waters surrounding Antarctica are full of interesting creatures - there are numerous seals, whales, sea birds, and fish all feeding on the billions of krill (or the fish that eat the krill) that live in the COLD water!  These teeny tiny little crustaceans are perhaps the most important creature in the Antarctic seas. 

So, what I thought was going to be a boring region is actually a pretty amazing place.  Hope you join our exploration!

Beautiful isn't it?


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