Antarctica Geography 2018, CIA World Factbook
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Antarctica Geography 2018

SOURCE: 2018 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK AND OTHER SOURCES











Antarctica Geography 2018
SOURCE: 2018 CIA WORLD FACTBOOK AND OTHER SOURCES


Page last updated on February 28, 2018

Location:
continent mostly south of the Antarctic Circle

Geographic coordinates:
90 00 S, 0 00 E

Map references:
Antarctic Region

Area:
total: 14 million sq km
[see also: Area - total country ranks ]
land: 14 million sq km (280,000 sq km ice-free, 13.72 million sq km ice-covered) (est.)
[see also: Area - land country ranks ]
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: 2

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

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

Coastline:
17,968 km
[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 consultative nations have made no claims to Antarctic territory (although Russia and the US have reserved the right to do so) and do not recognize the claims of the other nations; 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 ]
elevation extremes: lowest point: Bentley Subglacial Trench -2,540 m highest point: Vinson Massif 4,892 m
note: the lowest known land point in Antarctica is hidden in the Bentley Subglacial Trench; 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; none presently exploited; krill, finfish, and crab have been taken by commercial fisheries

Land use:
agricultural land: 0%
[see also: Land use - agricultural land country ranks ]
forest: 0%
[see also: Land use - forest country ranks ]
other: 100% (ice 98%, barren rock 2%) (2015 est.)
[see also: Land use - other 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 2002, significant areas of ice shelves disintegrated in response to regional warming; in 2016, a gradual trend toward "healing" of the ozone hole was reported

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

NOTE: 1) The information regarding Antarctica on this page is re-published from the 2018 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Antarctica Geography 2018 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Antarctica Geography 2018 should be addressed to the CIA.
2) The rank that you see is the CIA reported rank, which may habe the following issues:
  a) The 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 assignes counterintuitive ranks. For example, it assigns unemployment rates in increasing order, whereas we rank them in decreasing order






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