Antarctica is a truly remarkable continent. While it is unlike any other landmass in the world, what is occurring in the southernmost continent has the potential to impact life across the globe.
Whether it is the ongoing argument over rising temperatures, melting ice caps or overfishing, the face of Antarctica is rapidly changing. This means if you want to see the real Antarctica with penguins, whales and a plethora of other bird and wildlife, now is the time to book a trip with Aurora Expeditions.
Onboard our Polar Pioneer ship, you are able to experience Antarctica just as legendary explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton did on one of his three expeditions to the polar region. In addition to retracing the steps of one of the world’s great explorers, our team of onboard experts can provide great insight into all things Antarctica, from the climate and ocean currents to the unique fauna on show.
To whet your appetite for your Antarctic adventure with Aurora Expeditions, here is a selection of key figures that sum this continent up perfectly.
While it isn’t too hard to imagine that Antarctica is somewhat cold, the -89.2 degree temperature recorded in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Station is sure to send a shiver up the spine of any traveller. This temperature is actually the coldest recorded anywhere in the world, further highlighting how different Antarctica is to the rest of the world.
According to the British Antarctic Survey, Antarctic temperatures mostly fluctuate between -20 and -60 degrees, depending on the season and proximity to the coastline.
This certainly illustrates the need for quality, warm clothing on your journey with Aurora Expeditions. As such, we provide every passenger with a complimentary polar expedition jacket to keep you toasty when the bitter winds begin to howl.
As mentioned above, climate change is an ongoing debate around the world, with the effects being witnessed in Antarctica. In this context, 60 metres references the rise in sea levels if all the ice in Antarctica melted. While this hopefully won’t happen, it shows the scale of ice on the continent, and why it is so important to protect this ecosystem.
Of course, for scientists, ice melting is already having an impact on activities. In a recent interview, Director of the Royal Institute of Australia Dr Paul Willis noted that ice breaking off the main shelf into the sea appears to be occurring earlier in the season, preventing scientists from reaching Seymour Island – one of the continent’s outer islands and home to various monitoring stations.
14 million (square kilometres)
Antarctica’s location at the bottom of the globe certainly does it a disservice by hiding the sheer size of the continent from full appreciation. At 14 million square kilometres, Antarctica is twice the size of Australia and larger than the entire European continent as well as US/Mexico combined.
In stark contrast to those other locations, the vast majority of Antarctica is covered by a thick layer of ice throughout the year, making the fifth-largest continent also the driest, coldest and windiest on the planet.
With no permanent residents, Antarctica is maintained and supported by around 30 countries including Australia, United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand. Many of these countries man research stations located around the edge of the ice which are used for scientific studies and ongoing projects.
During the warmer summer months, there can be up to 5,000 people living and working across the continent, with this number dropping to around 1,000 over the freezing (and dark) winter. While living in Antarctica is tough going, the well-built stations provide everything from kitchens and bedrooms to full living areas to ensure those hardy souls can enjoy their time on the ice.
7 (species of penguins)
When it comes to Antarctica’s animals, there is one that is synonymous with the region – the penguin. The 18 species of flightless birds are only found in the Southern Hemisphere, eight of which are endemic to the Antarctic mainland and parts of the Subantarctic Islands.
It is important to know your penguin species while onboard your Aurora Expeditions voyage, as there are clear differences between each one, with size being the most obvious. The smallest penguin in Antarctica is the Rockhopper standing at just 60 cm tall, found in the Falkland Islands, New Zealand Subantarctic, Tierra del Fuego and Prince Edward Islands.
At the other end of the scale stands the Emperor which can grow up to 115 cm. This particular species of penguin is found across the circumpolar region nesting in the brutal winds for up to three months while their mates hunt for food in the rough winter ocean.
The Emperor is also the rarest of the Antarctic penguins with an estimated 595,000 individual birds compared to the more than 24 million Macaroni penguin that live across the region.
Want to visit Antarctica?
Antarctica is simply breathtaking. From the landscape and climate to the animals, the continent should be on anyone’s bucket list. To learn more about our various experiences, feel free to get in touch with the team at Aurora Expeditions to get your plans rolling today!