Antarctica is a continent where constant cold reigns, winds rage, and a blizzard sweeps up. The constant low temperatures make it almost impossible to stay here. Nevertheless, specialists from different parts of the world periodically visit Antarctica to carry out meaningful scientific works. Some live for months in research stations and demonstrate resistance to harsh environmental conditions.
One of the coldest places on the Earth
The climate of Antarctica is directly dependent on its geographic location. It lies at an altitude of about 2000 meters above sea level. The central regions of Antarctica lie even higher (about 4000 meters). Here, the continental reef is almost completely covered by an ice sheet.
Surprisingly, this continent is too cold and at the same time very sunny. What is the lowest temperature seen on this mainland? According to statistics, scientists at Vostok station recorded a record low mark of -89.2 degrees (Celsius) (later, these data will be amended). The highest air temperature recorded here was +14 degrees Celsius. When the summer comes, the air temperature fluctuates between -30, -20 degrees (Celsius). The temperature is noticeably warmer and is 0 degrees on the coasts.
Antarctica receives a lot of heat during the summer months, but its surfaces are almost not heated. Why? There is an obvious explanation for this. About 80% of the heat is reflected from the icy surface of the mainland and goes back. In winter, these territories remain without heat, and then the air temperature drops to excessive levels.
The so-called katabatic winds also influence the severity of the climate (reaching 80-90 m/s). They usually blow almost non-stop from April to November. This physical phenomenon is formed due to the temperature difference between the air and Antarctica’s surface. The terrain also affects the climate of the mainland – surprisingly, in the same part of the mainland, calm weather and powerful storms can take place at the same time.
Such a phenomenon as air rarefaction directly influences the climate of the continent. This physical manifestation takes place after a considerable height above sea level. Territories in the deep regions of the mainland are especially susceptible to this influence.
Antarctica – the land of eternal snows and winds
The designated continent is located in two climatic zones simultaneously – Antarctic and Subantarctic. The northern territories of the peninsula belong to the temperate zone. There is no polar day or night here; nevertheless, the weather conditions of its regions are very harsh.
What about precipitation? In the northwest of the continent, about 700-800 mm of precipitation falls annually. The smallest amount of precipitation was recorded in the central territories of the mainland. This is a general characteristic of the presented region climate. Here you can observe precipitation in the form of the so-called diamond dust. Rimes is also very common here. You will be shocked, but there are locations in Antarctica where no precipitation has been recorded at all for about 2 million years (no rain or snow). Such regions are called Antarctic oases or dry valleys.
The inland areas of the mainland have the most severe climate. In winter, the temperature here can drop to -64 degrees Celsius, and in summer, it can rise to -32. There is a dynamic cyclonic activity over the ocean near Antarctica. The coastal waters are covered with ice, the water here is surprisingly warmer than the air.
There is a considerable number of lakes under the thickness of the Antarctica ice and snow (today, scientists know about 300 pretty large ones). Their waters do not freeze due to pressure and geothermal heat. Some lakes are connected by underground channels and exchange water. As you can see, there are lakes in Antarctica, even despite the harsh cold climate. Moreover, they are all considered part of one sizeable hydrological network found under the ice.
Antarctica is indeed the coldest and, at the same time, beautiful place on the Earth. In 2013, the record low-temperature data was updated. Researchers have recorded a figure of -93 degrees Celsius. Despite the abundance of snow and ice, Antarctica is considered to be the driest and windiest continent. In technical terms, it can be called a natural desert (every year its inner territories receive precipitation in the form of 50 mm of snow). Scientists propose to compare these data with the abundance of precipitation in the Sahara. So, this famous dessert gets 2 times more precipitation falls in the form of rains per year.
Did you know that cold and unfriendly Antarctica is the only place with no reptiles and snakes? Nevertheless, penguins, whales, seals live and breed well in this cruel climate. For example, there are about 17 species of penguins living in large families (colonies).