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One and a half times the size of the USA: 10 surprising facts about Antarctica

How much do you know about Antarctica? The team has been busy doing their research about the continent they are going to spend 80 days on in 2018; here is our top 10:

10) The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -89.2oC (128.6oF), recorded at Vostok Research Station on 21st July 1983

9) The highest recorded temperature at the Amundsen-Scout South Pole Research station was -12.3oC (9.9oF) in 2011

8) Only 2% of Antarctica’s surface is not covered in ice; called an ‘Antarctic Oasis’ these are generally found on the warmest part of Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsular, mountain tops and some coastal areas

7) The South Pole has a desert climate, almost never receiving precipitation and air humidity is near zero

6) Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest place on Earth

5) Antarctica is one and a half times the size of the United States with an area of 14 million km2

4) The West Antarctic Peninsular is the fastest warming place on Earth, experiencing increases in mean temperature in the order of 1oC per decade since the 1950’s

3) Antarctica is losing 159 billion tonnes of ice per year

2) Until about 50 million years ago, Antarctica had a temperate climate and evergreen forests, having been part of the supercontinent ‘Gondwana’. Captain Scott and the Terra Nova expedition were the first to provide evidence of this after the discovery of ‘Glossiopteris’ fossils; an ancient tree fern found on all of the Southern Continents

1) The Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 27 million km3 of ice; 61% of the fresh water available on Earth

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