Our Beautiful World


Glaciers of the subpolar Antarctic Peninsula. In the "warm" summer months,
there is a little rain and some melting of the glaciers in this part of Antarctica.

Photograph courtesy of John Anderson, Rice University. (URL not valid as per Sept.2010)

Antarctic, common name on the surrounding land- and oceanareas on the South Pole.

The Antarctic Continent (13,1 mill. km2) is sorrounded by the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and a distinct change in temperature follows the 53 - 62 latitude in the Pacific Ocean,
and about the 50th towards the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Antarctic is covered by an Icecap up to 4.200m thickness, averaging 1.500 to 2.000 m asl. On the Pole, snow lies at 2.800 m asl. The highest mountains is Massif Vinson; 5139 m asl in Ellsworth Mountains area.

Satellite images showing the changes in Antarctic sea ice in 1986.
The reds and purples are the areas of most dense sea ice concentration.
In the winter, Antarctica almost doubles in size
(from Gloerson et al., 1992; NASA Scientific and Technology Information Program).


Only a smaller part is ice-free sometimes. Temperature in the air is seldom above the freezing point at 0° C, except for the coastline in Graham Land and on the islands in the north...
(So far I'm having a little difficulty to see what is west and east, not to mention
what is exactly north on the South Pole...Anyone help to offer?)

Iceberg breaking away from an ice shelf. Calving of 'bergs is the only way
to get rid of ice in a polar setting!

Photograph by S. Shipp, Rice University. (URL not valid as per Sept.2010)

Lots of ice are now disapperaring from the South Pole area, byt exactly how much is melting?
Some calculations say that so far as much as 3.275 square-kilometers have dissappered.
That equals 720 cubic-kilometers or 0,0024% of all the ice in Antarctic.

Now isn't 0,0024% a large quantity, but if you think that 100% would force the
ocean to rise as much as 60 meters, that means that 1% would be equal to 0,60 meters,
an then at least Tuvalu and several other islands - an not to forget some sea-port towns would have some new problems. But now it is just a 0,0024%. That doesn't qual to more than
1,44 millimeters.

Then, is there really a problem? Yes, in some way there is. To day is March the 25th, and so
far those 0,0024% has already disapperared this year! And is that only the ice from the
Larsen-shelf. Then what about the one that broke off in the Pine-Island area? And has there
been other losses elsewhere down there this year? You won't have to multiply 1,44mm with
so many broken icebergs, till you get centimeters of rise in the sea-level, and some places
there just isn't that much to go for. And now the North Pole is also getting into the matter.

Slice through the East and West Antarctic ice sheets showing their bases relative
to present sea level. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet sits on bedrock close to, or above, sea level.
The base of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet lies on land below sea level
(modified from Bentley, 1964).


Map showing what is really land on the South Pole. A black line sorrounding the mainaland shows what is 'the pole' today, where ice makes up most of the area.


over 250


over 500


over 225
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