Spinning Yarn on the Antarctic Continent
Poses a Massive Challenge
The Antarctic Continent is a frozen desert and the coldest, driest,
and windiest place on Earth. It has the highest average elevation of all the continents, which results in even
colder temperatures. Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 % of its fresh water.
The Continent receives annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less
inland. The South Pole itself receives less than 10 cm (4 in) per year.
Centered asymmetrically around the South Pole, Antarctica is divided in two by the Transantarctic
Mountains close to the neck between the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. The portion west of the Weddell Sea and east
of the Ross Sea is called West Antarctica and the remainder East Antarctica, because they roughly correspond to the
Western and Eastern Hemispheres relative to the Greenwich meridian.
Containing many other mountains, both on the main continent and the surrounding islands, The
Antarctic Continent is home to more than 70 lakes that lie at the base of the continental ice sheet.
The Antarctic Continent is entirely surrounded by the Southern Ocean, comprising
the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. The coastline measures 17,968 km (11,165 mi) and is mostly
characterized by ice formations **See Icebergs
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are key elements in the global weather system. The Antarctic sea
ice tends to be covered by thicker snow, which may accumulate to the point that the weight of snow pushes the ice
below sea level, causing the snow to become flooded by salty ocean waters. Antarctic sea ice does not reach the
South Pole, extending only to about 75 degrees south latitude (in the Ross and Weddell Seas), because of the
The Antarctic Continent supports a variety of sea life including penguins, blue
whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals. Antarctic krill, which congregates in large schools, is the
keystone species of the ecosystem of the Southern Ocean, and is an important food organism for whales, seals,
leopard seals, fur seals, squid, icefish, penguins, albatrosses and many other birds.