Five Things You Didn't Know About The South Pole

On January 18, 1912, Robert F. Scott, the British explorer, made it to the South Pole, only to find out that Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, had gotten there first. Find out five things you didn’t know about the South Pole.

ADVERTISEMENT

It Wasn't Seen by Humans Until 1820 The Russians first spotted Antarctica in 1820, but they didn’t stop by to visit its icy barrenness. It was a Connecticut seal hunter named John Davis who first landed on the shores of Antarctica, supposedly in search of prey to hunt. A Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, arrived on Antarctica in 1911, followed by an expedition led by Englishman Robert F. Scott. 

Antarctica Has No Time Zones It isn’t possible to colonize Antarctica because it doesn’t belong to any country, and the weather is so inhospitable that only scientists and tourists go there for short stays. In the past, a number of countries claimed it—including Great Britain, France, Australia, and Argentina—but those claims were never approved by other countries around the world. However, fifty-three countries have joined the Antarctic treaty (signed in 1959)—a peaceful agreement that allows all to study the continent.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Largest Desert iI The World is in The Antarctic When we think of deserts, we usually think of the Sahara, the Gobi, the Kalahari, etc. Deserts tend to be very warm and sandy. However, the technical criteria for an area to qualify as a desert is just for there to be very little precipitation — less than 25 centimeters per year, to be precise. Most of Antarctica is too cold to allow for precipitation in the form of rain or snow, so approximately 5.5 million square miles of the continent is a desert — the largest desert in the World, in fact. It’s even theorized that some parts of the Antarctic desert haven’t had any form of precipitation for two million years.

The Seasons At The South Pole Are Reversed When it is summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s winter at the south pole. This is because the seasons between the northern and southern hemispheres are reversed, which means New Zealand and Australia's seasons are also opposite from countries the lie north of the equator. Another weather phenomenon? Since the south pole sits at the extreme southern end of the planet, it has only has two seasons: winter and summer.

The Lowest Temperatures On The Planet Have Been Recorded At The South Pole It gets so cold at the south pole that it even beat its own record for the lowest temperature on earth. A temperature of of -89.2C was recorded back in 1983. But in August 2010 (wintertime in Antarctica), satellites recorded a new low of -94.1C. These temperatures explain why almost no vegetation exists there, and the only inhabitants are penguins because they have adapted to the frigid climate.