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Session Topic 2

Session Topic 3:

General Information

End of Unit Test

Below is some extra information you may need for the activities and your project:
Antarctica was the last continent in the world to be discovered. Antarctica is a polar environment.  It is the fifth largest continent in the world and also it is the coldest place on Earth. 

Antarctica is very different from the other polar environment being the Arctic. The Arctic is mostly sea surrounded on its edges by the northern parts of Asia, Europe and North America. By contrast the Antarctic is mostly land, covered with permanent ice and isolated from all other continents by thousands of kilometres. The nearest land is the tip of South America which is 970km from the Antarctic Peninsula. Also Antarctica is much colder then the Arctic.  This is due to the very high winds which sometimes get up to 240km per hour. The highest temperature so far recorded is -10degress C in the mildest region.

Antarctica is approximately twice the size of Australia.  Along the edge are high mountains called the Transantarctic Mountains which separate East Antarctica from West Antarctica. The highest mountain is Vinson Massif which is 5,140 metres. There is an active volcano called Mt. Erebus This is 3,794 metres high and in 1979 an Air New Zealand plane crashed into Mt. Erebus.

Ice covers nearly all the continent with an average thickness of 2.2km. This represents  90% of the world’s ice and the greatest reserve of fresh water on earth. Because of all the fresh water, the Antarctic Ocean is less salty than other oceans and also much colder.

Rain NEVER falls in Antarctica.  It only snows. At the South Pole 10-15cm of snow falls each year and by the coast 30 - 60cm.  It often falls as fine, dry snow and when combined with high winds it is known as a blizzard.

In winter the sea surrounding the continent freezes for up to 2 metres in thickness. Towards summer the ice begins to break up forming pack ice that floats, called icebergs.
Scientists believe the ice gradually moves from certain places near the centre of the continent to the coast. It takes perhaps 15,000 years for snow falling on the interior to move and be pushed to reach the sea.

When the ice moves at different speeds crevasses form. Crevasses are very dangerous because people can fall into them. Another type of ice movement is a glacier. This is like a river of ice. It moves more rapidly than the rest of the ice and can cause crevasses. 

There are only two seasons, winter and summer. In winter it is almost continuously dark and in summer it is mostly light.  In summer the weather can be calm and clear for several days. Sometimes there are blizzards that last days and days. 

Sea Life:
The Antarctic waters support a huge amount of life. The plankton and algae are very important for these are the food of the small prawn like fish called krill which in turn is a major food source for fish, eaten by whales, penguins, albatrosses and petrels.

James Cook was the first to sail into the Antarctic Circle. Huge blocks of ice prevented him from going further south. He completely circled Antarctica but could not see land. He reported seeing many seals which encouraged sealers and other explorers to explore. Macquarie island was discovered in 1810 and Heard Island in 1833. The first landing on the actual coast was not until 1895 at Cape Adare.

Captain R.F. Scott led the first British Antarctic Expedition in the ship, "Discovery", in 1901 - 4. He explored the Ross Ice Shelf. Ernest Shakelton followed in 1907 -9 and he wintered on Ross Island. 
In 1911 there was a race  between Roald Amundsen and Scott to reach the South Pole. The first person to reach the South Pole was Roald Amundsen a Norwegian on 14th December 1911. Amundsen and 4 companions set off on 19th October 1911 with 4 sleds and 52 Arctic dogs.  Scott used specially trained ponies rather then dogs for his expedition. The ponies had to be shot leaving Scott and his men to haul the sledges themselves. They did arrive at the South Pole only to find Amundsen’s flag and a note. Scott arrived on January 18th, 1912. Disappointed at missing their goal of being the first to the Pole, they then set out on the long trek back to base. Weakened by scurvy two died and Scott and his other two companions were found dead in their tent by a rescue party.  They were only 18kms to an emergency supply depot.   Scott’s diary was found next to him.
Douglas Mawson organised his first Australian Antarctic Expedition in 1911 - 14. On this expedition Mawson set off with Xavier Mertz and Belgrave Ninnis to explore Commonwealth Bay. Tragically Mawson was the only one to survive this adventure.  Mawson then led a second trip in the summers of 1929 and 1931 and he became a keen supporter of Australia’s role in Antarctica.

Australian Stations:
There are three in Antarctica. Australia’s oldest station in Antarctica is named Mawson Station as a tribute to Sir Douglas Mawson's work. This station was established in 1954 and is the longest continually occupied station of any nation. Davis Station was established in 1957 and Casey in 1969.  During the winter only a few men and women live on the Australian stations but the number increases in summer. They study such things as weather, magnetism, gravity, cosmic radiation, earthquakes, sunspots, animals and oceanography. 
The whole in the ozone layer was first discovered over Antarctica.
Other countries with bases in Antarctica include United States of America, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Africa, France, Argentina, Chile, India and China.

This is where the two polar environments are very different. The Arctic has over 400 species of flowering plants and ferns. In Antarctica there are only 2 plants and about 70 species of moss and lichens. in the Australian section of Antarctica there are no flowering plants and very few mosses.

What you need to do...
* To complete this session, you need to work through each activity listed below.
  • Continue to search the internet for "web sites" on Antarctica. Record in your Unit Book the URL's of any that you find. 
  • Begin your "Research Project". By now you should have collected a few "web sites" with information about Antarctica. Use the information you find at these sites to help compile your project. Revisit the Research Project link. It has plenty of helpful information. 
  • Email your teacher when you have read the above information.
Mr Dickinson Mrs Wyatt Mr Ladbury

Checklist:Have you done these things: 
- Carefully read the above information? ...
- Continued your internet search for Antarctica web sites? ...
- Begun your "Research Project"? ...

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