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Antarctica - 2

  • Date Submitted: 08/03/2012 05:13 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.2 
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Introduction
Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent, encapsulating the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages at least 1 mile (1.6 km) in thickness. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent. Since all but 2.4% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 2,160 meters thick, it is also the highest continent.
Antarctica is about 14 million square kilometers in area, which is about the size of the contiguous 48 U.S. states plus about half of Mexico. The continent surrounds the South Pole and is cut off from all other continents by the southern parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans — which together are called the Southern Ocean.
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Climate

The climate of Antarctica is the coldest on the whole of Earth. Antarctica has the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever recorded on the ground on Earth: −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) at Vostok Station. It is also extremely dry (technically a desert), averaging 166 mm (6.5 in) of precipitation per year. Even so, on most parts of the continent the snow rarely melts and is eventually compressed to become the glacial ice that makes up the ice sheet. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent. Most of Antarctica has an ice cap climate (Köppen EF) with very cold; generally extremely dry weather throughout the year and no month averaging above 0 °C (32 °F). Some fringe coastal areas have a polar climate (Köppen ET) with a short summer averaging above freezing, and much higher precipitation.
Precipitation
Almost all Antarctic precipitation falls as snow. Note that the quoted precipitation is a measure of...

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