There is so much that we don't know yet about our planet, Earth. This is especially true when it comes to places which are remote, hard to reach and where the climate is harsh and uninviting.
That makes Antarctica one of the most mysterious places on Earth - it's an icy, remote, desolate desert with many secrets that are yet to be unraveled. The continent is so large that it may seem that scientists are just beginning to explore its vast territories and hidden treasures.
1. There Are Places In Antarctica Which Haven't Received Rain Or Snow In 2 Million Years
In Antarctica around 1% of the continent (4,000 km or 2,500 mi) is permanently ice-free – such areas are called dry valleys or Antarctic oasis. They are thought to be the world’s harshest deserts and it is estimated that these areas haven’t seen rain or snow in almost 2 million years.
2. There Is A Waterfall In Antarctica Which Is Called Blood Falls
Don’t worry – no real blood is running there. 5 million years ago, as sea levels rose, East Antarctica was flooded and a brine lake was formed there. After millions of years, glaciers formed on top of the lake. As they froze, the water below became even saltier. Today, the subglacial lake under Blood Falls is three times saltier than seawater and, therefore, is too salty to freeze. The water beneath Taylor Glacier, which feeds the Blood Fall, contains a lot of iron (picked up from the underlying bedrock) and when iron-rich water comes in contact with air, the iron oxidizes and takes on a red coloring, leaving blood-like stains on the ice.
3. 70% Percent Of World's Fresh Water Is In Antarctica
Around 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of the fresh water is in Antarctica. If all of the Antarctic ice melted, sea levels in the world would rise about 200 feet (61 meters).
4. The Average Ice Sheet Thickness In Antarctica Is 1 Mile
Antarctica, the southernmost continent, is almost completely covered in a thick layer of ice. The thickness of the ice sheet varies depending on the location, with the East Antarctic sheet being much thicker than the one in the West. On average, the ice is more than one mile (1.6 km) thick, but in some sections it can get as thick as almost three miles (4.8 km).
5. Sled Dogs Have Been Banned From Antarctica In 1994
Back in 1911, sled dogs hauled supplies for Norwegian explorers led by Roald Amundsen. It was the first expedition to reach the South Pole. Afterwards, sled dogs were kept and used in Antarctica for years. However, they were banned from the continent in 1993 due to fear that they might transmit canine distemper to the Antarctic seals or would escape and disturb the local wildlife.