Where is Antarctica?
Antarctica is a continent, a large amount of land surrounded by water. It is 5.4 million square feet, which is quite a bit larger than the United States (which is only 3.6 million square feet), and is in the southern part of the globe.
The continent is separated into two regions by the Transantarctic Mountains: East Antarctica and West Antarctica.
Weather and Climate in Antarctica
It might be surprising to hear that this continent is considered a desert, which means it's a place that gets very little moisture. But there are no sand dunes, cacti or rattlesnakes. Mainly it is flat ice and glaciers, with only moss and algae that grows there. It also has two active volcanoes.
It is so cold in Antarctica that nobody actually lives there, although there are visiting scientists from all over the world at any given time of the year. If you do travel to Antarctica, be sure to pack extra warm clothes. The temperature can drop to -128 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on what time of year you visit.
Because Antarctica is in the southern hemisphere (the half of the Earth below the equator), you'll want to plan your visit for our wintertime, as it will be summer down in Antarctica and a balmy -18 degrees!
When you're there make sure to admire the large icebergs, which are huge chunks of ice that break off from glaciers. The chunks of ice are made from the freezing temperatures that pack the snow together.
But don't let the weather get in the way of you exploring this continent. You'd miss out on so many wonderful animals.
There are no land mammals in Antarctica, but that doesn't mean there is no wildlife. On the contrary: one animal you might see there that you would recognize is the emperor penguin. You might know them as the penguins from the movie, Happy Feet.
There are also lots of different types of seals. You might see Weddell seals or leopard seals (because they are spotted like a leopard) lounging on the ice or in the water. If you're interested in whales then you're in luck, because Antarctica is home to killer whales, blue whales, and humpback whales (just to name a few).
And for the bird lovers, there are many species to observe and learn about in Antarctica. Some of them include Antarctic fulmers, who can spit bad-smelling oil when they are protecting their eggs, and also the sheathbills, the only birds without webbed feet. Would you really miss out on seeing these interesting animals just because it's a little, well, very cold over there? I wouldn't.
Antarctica is a continent larger than the United States, covered in snow and with with huge icebergs floating around in the nearby waters. It is also a desert, which means although it has ice and snow, there is very little moisture.
Nobody actually lives in Antarctica, but there are visiting scientists from all over the world. You might want to visit during Antarctica's summer months, when the temperature resembles the cold winters on the east coast of the U.S. If you do, be sure to visit the whales, seals, penguins, and birds.
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