The Antarctic Region

What Will You Find There?
South of the Antarctic Circle (at 66.5S latitude) you will find the continent of Antarctica surrounded by the Southern Ocean, the geographic South Pole and the magnetic South Pole, and a large amount of ice covering the land and spilling over adjacent seas as ice shelves. The aurora, called the Southern Lights in the Southern Hemisphere can be visible. There are large mountains and active volcanoes on the continent. You will also find wildlife such as several species of penguins and many other birds such as albatrosses and skuas. Seals and whales can be found in the ocean water surrounding Antarctica, as well as tons of small shrimp-like arthropods called krill that swim in large schools.

Scientists at Research Stations
In the summer there may be as many as 4000 people in the Antarctic at scientific research stations including McMurdo Station on the shore of McMurdo Sound, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station at the geographic South Pole, and Halley Research Station on an ice shelf in the Weddell Sea. The scientists visiting Antarctica are doing various types of research including studies of biology, geology, oceanography, astronomy, astrophysics, glaciology, climatology, and meteorology to better understand this part of our planet. Some of these people stay year-round at the research stations, even during winter when there is little or no daylight in this region.

The South Pole
Atop the 2700 meter (9000 foot) thickness of ice that covers the land at the South Pole, scientists have marked the location of the geographic pole with a marker sign. The brass-topped marker sign is about twelve feet long. About eight feet of it gets pounded into the ice to hold it in place. The rest sits above the ice. Each year the marker moves approximately 10 meters (30 feet) away from the Pole as the ice flows. So, on the first day of January, scientists at the South Pole Station add another marker at 90 degrees south latitude to re-mark the true location of the geographic South Pole.

Last modified April 29, 2008 by Becca Hatheway.

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more


Antarctica is unique. It is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. The land is barren and mostly covered with a thick sheet of ice. Antarctica is almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle...more

The Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean is a bit different. Many mapmakers do not even recognize it as an ocean. The Southern Ocean (sometimes known as the Antarctic Ocean or South Polar Ocean) surrounds Antarctica in the...more

The Cryosphere

Frozen water is found in many different places on Earth. Snow blankets the ground at mid and high latitudes during winter. Sea ice and icebergs float in the chilly waters of polar oceans. Ice shelves fringe...more

Ice Shelves

Ice shelves are a part of the Earth's cryosphere. Ice shelves are usually extensions of glaciers or ice sheets that cover the land. An ice shelf is a part of an ice sheet that extends from land out over...more

Exploration of the Poles of the Earth

Polar exploration includes the physical exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctica. The Arctic is the area around the Earth's north pole and includes parts of Canada, Greenland, Russia, the United States...more

Study of Glacial Earthquakes Shakes Up Idea of How Ice Streams Move

New research shows that a 7,000-square-mile region of the Whillians Ice Stream in West Antarctica moves more than two feet twice every day in an earthquake-like pattern equal to a Magnitude 7 earthquake....more

Sea Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic

Sea ice is frozen seawater. It can be several meters thick and it moves over time. Although the salts in the seawater do not freeze, pockets of concentrated salty water become trapped in the sea ice when...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA