Description of the geography of the Antarctic continent, ice, oasis, climate, human settlements research and travel to the discovery of Antarctica.
Journey to Antarctica
The two parts of Antarctica have distinct characteristics. The eastern part is the largest by extension with an irregular shape that is bordered largely by the Indian Ocean while the western part consists of an archipelago of islands, who joined in later periods to the main territory, lapped by the Pacific Ocean .
Between the two zones extend for more than three thousand kilometers, the Transantarctic Mountains are characterized by tectonic activity due to the presence of the Erebus volcano still active. As for the polar cap it can be said that it is similar to an elliptical dome covering almost the entire surface composed of rocks and frequently affected by snow and hail storms made with grains in shape of ice needles.
The ice masses of Antarctica are increasingly moving to the coasts and seas reached less cold break down into smaller parts resulting in drifting icebergs that go then. Wanting to date the great area of ice covering Antarctica we can say that it originated about 18 million years ago with the end of geological epoch Oligocene.
Previously, contrary to what you might believe, the weather was scorching and this is proven by various paleontological evidence dating to 25 million years ago. Today only a surface equal to 2% of the total is not covered by ice, especially at the nunatak which are the tops of mountains that rise over the ice cover.
The oases are the most famous dry valleys mainly located within the Transantarctic chain. In the Antarctic climate it is varied whereas the average annual temperatures are about 55 degrees below zero in the vicinity of the center-east and about 45 degrees in the west.
With regard to the monthly average of these temperatures are approximately 70 degrees below zero in the inner parts and about 20 degrees below zero in the vicinity of coastal areas throughout the winter season, while in summer may oscillate between 0 degrees and 35 degrees below zero.
Rainfall is typically solid with no rain. Much of continete is swept by strong winds reaching speeds of over 100 kilometers per hour and blowing direction from the interior to the coastal areas, is said katabatic.
Here every living species is poor because of the harsh climate. There are plant organisms such as mosses and lichens with little algae that live in the ice. Among the animal species some species of penguins live in Antarctica all year while seals and birds remain here only in summer.
The flora and fauna are more assorted thanks to the warm currents of three oceans, meeting the cold waters of Antarctica, favor the formation of plankton that allows survival food for many species of fish and cetaceans.
Because of the harsh climate there has never been human settlements permanent, you can report the mere presence of stable bases only for scientific research. Among the research conducted in Antarctica fields of interest concern the physics that studies the atmosphere, space physics, the study of meteorology, oceanography, glaciology.
Great importance is also research to geophysical and geological which can obtain an assessment of the energy and mineral resources to evaluate a possible exploitation.