Travel Blog

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Written by Alejandro ParraSeptember 4 at 11:02 AM

Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth. It is situated entirely in the southern hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and is surrounded by the Antarctic Ocean. Therefore, colloquially and by extension it is also erroneously known as the south pole. It is the fourth largest continent after Asia, America, and Africa. Compared to Oceania, Antarctica is almost twice its size. About 98% of Antarctica is covered in ice, Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest and windiest continent, and has the highest average altitude of all continent. Native Antarctic organisms include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protists, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, pinnipeds, and tardigrades. The type of vegetation that occurs in some small areas is the tundra.

The term «Antarctica» comes from the romanized version of the Greek compound word «ἀνταρκτική» —antarktiké—, feminine expression of «ἀνταρκτικός» —antarktikós—, which means "opposite to the Arctic" or "opposite to the north".

Although there are records that the first sightings in Antarctica occurred in the early 16th century and, more strongly after the 19th century, as early as the 1st century —with the hypothesis of the astronomer Claudio Ptolomeo about the probable symmetry of the land masses known until then — belief persisted in a vast continent located at the southern end of the planet, as already mentioned, in 1603, a Spanish fleet under the command of Gabriel de Castilla, they were the first Europeans to spot Antarctic land. In 1902, the Swedish Otto Nordenskjöld, the Norwegian Carl Anton Larsen and the Argentine José María Sobral were trapped on the mainland, each separated by their expeditionary group, when the Antarctic ship of the Swedish Antarctic Expedition was stranded. After surviving the Antarctic winter and later regrouping, they are rescued in 1903 by the Argentine corvette Uruguay under the command of Argentine captain Julián Irizar.

The total surface of Antarctica covers a total of 14 million square kilometers, which translates into the fourth largest continent, significantly superior to Europe and Oceania. It has a coastline of 17 968 ​​km and its formations ice are its main characteristic. Antarctica is the coldest continent on Earth and that is where the lowest temperature was recorded since there are data (-89.2 ºC) on July 21, 1983, at the Russian base - then Soviet - of Vostok. This temperature exceeded the record of the previous one registered on August 24, 1960, with a value of -88.3 ° C. Antarctic geological survey has been very difficult across the continent, due to the thick ice cap that permanently covers it. However, new techniques such as remote sensing, ground sounding radar, and satellite images have started to reveal the structures under the ice.

Several governments maintain manned permanent research stations on the continent. The number of people conducting and supporting scientific research and other work on the mainland and its nearby islands ranges from 1,000 in winter to around 5,000 in summer, giving it a population density of between 70 and 350 inhabitants per million, square kilometers right now. Many of the stations are staffed throughout the year.

Antarctica, the last continent on Earth to be discovered and the most rigorous and exotic, has received tourism since the 1950s, although regular tourism has been developing since the second half of the 1960s, when the state-owned shipping company ELMA inaugurated tourist cruises to the Antarctic sector claimed by Argentina; Nowadays, the cruises that use, as the last pre-Antarctic stopover, Ushuaia and the Falklands, are cruises that are, almost always and up to the present, cabotage, visiting by sea the coasts and bases of the Antarctic peninsula and the great multitude of annexed archipelagos, for example the South Antilles. Following the Antarctic Treaty practically (at least formally) all human activities (except for limited tourism and limited fishing) are reduced to scientific research, mainly focused on meteorology and climatology, meteorites found in Antarctica are an important study material since they are formed at the beginning of the solar system; Most scientists consider such meteorites to come from asteroids, although some have their origins on large planets like Mars. The first meteorite was found in 1912, and was called the Adelia Earth meteorite.

Due to its location at the South Pole, Antarctica receives relatively little solar radiation except during the southern summer. This means that it is a very cold continent where the water is mainly in the form of ice. Precipitation is low (most of Antarctica is a desert) and almost always in the form of snow, which accumulates and forms a giant ice cap that covers the earth. Parts of this ice sheet form mobile glaciers known as ice currents, which flow to the edges of the continent. Along the mainland coast there are many ice shelves. These are floating extensions of glaciers emerging from the continental ice mass. On the high seas, temperatures are also low enough for ice to form from seawater for most of the year. It is important to understand the various types of Antarctic ice to understand the possible effects on sea level and the implications of global cooling.

Despite being a remote continent, the music world has begun to carry out actions, many of them with a charitable nature and to raise awareness among the population about the importance of caring for the planet:

In November 1983, the Chilean band Los Jaivas arrived on the white continent to record for TVN's Amigos Siempre Amigos program. The recording was made at the Chilean base Teniente Marsh of the FACh and the program was broadcast in December 1983. The Guinness Book of Records listed it as the first program made in Antarctica.

On December 8, 2013, the Metallica band performed for the first time a concert to "raise awareness of the importance of Antarctica to the planet", at Carlini Antarctic Base. It was for approximately one hundred attendees; Attendees from nearby bases such as: Uruguay, Chile, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Brazil and Germany were also summoned. The recital was without using amplifiers and a rigorous protocol on environmental impact was used.