The settlements included Grytviken, Leith Harbour, King Edward Point, Stromness, Husvik, Prince Olav Harbour, Ocean Harbour and Godthul. On top of this base are coal and various modern rocks, such as sandstones, limestones and shales laid down during the Devonian and Jurassic periods to form the Transantarctic Mountains. The apparently simple morphology, scarcely differentiated structures, metabolic systems and enzymes still active at very low temperatures, and reduced life cycles shown by such fungi make them particularly suited to harsh environments such as the McMurdo Dry Valleys. In 1983 the Antarctic Treaty Parties began negotiations on a convention to regulate mining in Antarctica. [154] The same group's 2018 systematic review study estimated that ice loss across the entire continent was 43 gigatonnes per year on average during the period from 1992 to 2002 but has accelerated to an average of 220 gigatonnes per year during the five years from 2012 to 2017. Lake Vostok, discovered beneath Russia's Vostok Station in 1996, is the largest of these subglacial lakes. It was eventually determined that the destruction of the ozone was caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emitted by human products. Antarctica covers more than 14 million km2 (5,400,000 sq mi),[1] making it the fifth-largest continent, about 1.3 times as large as Europe. More recent buildings are raised on stilts so that the snow does not build up against their sides. Each year, scientists from 28 different nations conduct experiments not reproducible in any other place in the world. [54] In 2004, a potentially active underwater volcano was found in the Antarctic Peninsula by American and Canadian researchers. The orbital distance contributes to a colder Antarctic winter (and a warmer Antarctic summer) but the first two effects have more impact. [69] It was first recorded near the Beardmore Glacier by Frank Wild on the Nimrod Expedition, and now low-grade coal is known across many parts of the Transantarctic Mountains. The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. This sediment uplift was accompanied by igneous intrusions and volcanism. [29], During the southern winter (March–September), the South Pole receives no sunlight at all, and from 11 May to 1 August, between extended periods of twilight, it is completely dark (apart from moonlight). The portion west of the Weddell Sea and east of the Ross Sea is called West Antarctica and the remainder East Antarctica. Qantas resumed commercial overflights to Antarctica from Australia in the mid-1990s. [64] It was during this era that Gondwana began to break up. The primary economic activity is the capture and offshore trading of fish. Antarctica contains many other mountains, on both the main continent and the surrounding islands. [158], A satellite record revealed that the overall increase in Antarctic sea ice extents reversed in 2014, with rapid rates of decrease in 2014–2017 reducing the Antarctic sea ice extents to their lowest values in the 40-y record. Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at research stations scattered across the continent. A lower air temperature of −94.7 °C (−138.5 °F) was recorded in 2010 by satellite—however, it may be influenced by ground temperatures and was not recorded at a height of 7 feet (2 m) above the surface as required for the official air temperature records. [81], The aurora australis, commonly known as the southern lights, is a glow observed in the night sky near the South Pole created by the plasma-full solar winds that pass by the Earth. The ice is estimated to be about 2,700 metres (9,000 ft) thick at the Pole, so the land surface under the ice sheet is actually near sea level.[2]. The Antarctic Peninsula began to form during the Jurassic period (206–146 Ma), and islands gradually rose out of the ocean. [181], Some scientific studies suggest that ozone depletion may have a dominant role in governing climatic change in Antarctica (and a wider area of the Southern Hemisphere). Discovery and claim of French sovereignty over Adélie Land by Jules Dumont d'Urville, in 1840.


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