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Antarctica Geography 2020

SOURCE: 2020 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK AND OTHER SOURCES











Antarctica Geography 2020
SOURCE: 2020 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK AND OTHER SOURCES


Page last updated on January 27, 2020

Location:
continent mostly south of the Antarctic Circle

Geographic coordinates:
90 00 S, 0 00 E

Map references:
Antarctic Region

Area:
total: 14.2 million sq km
[see also: Area - total country ranks ]
land: 14.2 million sq km (285,000 sq km ice-free, 13.915 million sq km ice-covered) (est.)
note: fifth-largest continent, following Asia, Africa, North America, and South America, but larger than Australia and the subcontinent of Europe
country comparison to the world (CIA rank, may be based on non-current data): 2

Area - comparative:
slightly less than 1.5 times the size of the US

Land boundaries:
0 note: see entry on Disputes - international

Coastline:
17,968 km
[see also: Coastline country ranks ]
[see also: Coastline country ranks ]

Maritime claims:
Australia, Chile, and Argentina claim Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) rights or similar over 200 nm extensions seaward from their continental claims, but like the claims themselves, these zones are not accepted by other countries; 22 of 29 Antarctic Treaty consultative parties have made no claims to Antarctic territory (although Russia and the US have reserved the right to do so); also see the Disputes - international entry

Climate:
the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth; severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation, and distance from the ocean; East Antarctica is colder than West Antarctica because of its higher elevation; Antarctic Peninsula has the most moderate climate; higher temperatures occur in January along the coast and average slightly below freezing; summers characterized by continuous daylight, while winters bring continous darkness; persistent high pressure over the interior brings dry, subsiding air that results in very little cloud cover

Terrain:
about 98% thick continental ice sheet and 2% barren rock, with average elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 m; mountain ranges up to nearly 5,000 m; ice-free coastal areas include parts of southern Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, the Antarctic Peninsula area, and parts of Ross Island on McMurdo Sound; glaciers form ice shelves along about half of the coastline, and floating ice shelves constitute 11% of the area of the continent

Elevation:
mean elevation: 2,300 m
[see also: Elevation - mean elevation country ranks ]
lowest point: Denman Glacier more than -3,500 m (-11,500 ft) below sea level
highest point: Vinson Massif 4,892 m
note: the lowest known land point in Antarctica is hidden in the Denman Galcier; at its surface is the deepest ice yet discovered and the world's lowest elevation not under seawater

Natural resources:
iron ore, chromium, copper, gold, nickel, platinum and other minerals, and coal and hydrocarbons have been found in small noncommercial quantities; mineral exploitation except for scientific research is banned by the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty; krill, icefish, toothfish, and crab have been taken by commercial fisheries, which are managed through the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR)

Land use:
0% (2015 est.)
[see also: Land use country ranks ]
[see also: Land use country ranks ]

Natural hazards:
katabatic (gravity-driven) winds blow coastward from the high interior; frequent blizzards form near the foot of the plateau; cyclonic storms form over the ocean and move clockwise along the coast; volcanism on Deception Island and isolated areas of West Antarctica; other seismic activity rare and weak; large icebergs may calve from ice shelf

Environment - current issues:
the discovery of a large Antarctic ozone hole in the earth's stratosphere (the ozone layer) - first announced in 1985 - spurred the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, an international agreement phasing out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals; the ozone layer prevents most harmful wavelengths of ultra-violet (UV) light from passing through the earth's atmosphere; ozone depletion has been shown to harm a variety of Antarctic marine plants and animals (plankton); in 2016, a gradual trend toward "healing" of the ozone hole was reported; since the 1990s, satellites have shown accelerating ice loss driven by ocean change; although considerable uncertainty remains, scientists are increasing our understanding and ability to model potential impacts of ice loss

Geography - note:
the coldest, windiest, highest (on average), and driest continent; during summer, more solar radiation reaches the surface at the South Pole than is received at the Equator in an equivalent period

mostly uninhabitable, 98% of the land area is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet, the largest single mass of ice on earth covering an area of 14 million sq km (5.4 million sq mi) and containing 26.5 million cu km (6.4 million cu mi) of ice (this is almost 62% of all of the world's fresh water); if all this ice were converted to liquid water, one estimate is that it would be sufficient to raise the height of the world's oceans by 58 m (190 ft)


NOTE: 1) The information regarding Antarctica on this page is re-published from the 2020 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Antarctica Geography 2020 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Antarctica Geography 2020 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
2) The rank that you see is the CIA reported rank, which may have the following issues:
  a) They assign increasing rank number, alphabetically for countries with the same value of the ranked item, whereas we assign them the same rank.
  b) The CIA sometimes assigns counterintuitive ranks. For example, it assigns unemployment rates in increasing order, whereas we rank them in decreasing order.






This page was last modified 27-Jan-20
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