Antarctica is the coldest, driest, highest continent on Earth, and is covered almost entirely by ice. This means we’ll be working in one of the harshest places on Earth. It will take a lot of special clothing and gear to be safe and get our work done.
So, while you’re enjoying Utah’s winter, we’ll be surviving Antarctica’s summer. Let’s see how the two compare.
1. How cold is Antarctica?
The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica, an incredibly cold −129°F. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Utah was -69 °F.
Even during the summer, temperatures are freezing in Antarctica. In fact, Antarctica’s summer temperatures are colder than Utah’s winter temperatures! It snows all year round in Antarctica, and the snow doesn’t melt!
2. How dry is Antarctica?
The coast of Antarctica is the wettest area, and it only gets an average of 8 inches of precipitation (snowfall) in a year. Provo, Utah gets an average of 20 inches in a year.
Antarctica, even at its wettest, is much drier than where our first grade and preschool students live. In fact, Antarctica is so dry it is actually a desert, but instead of sand dunes, it has snow dunes!
3. How high is Antarctica?
The highest point in Antarctica is 16,050 feet. The highest peak in Utah is only 13,528 feet. Mt. Timpanogos, which our students can see from their schools, is 11,749 feet.
On average, Antarctica is 7,500 feet high. Even with all its mountains, Utah’s average elevation is only 6,100 feet high. But instead of a lot of very high mountain ranges like in Utah, most of Antarctica is very thick ice.
4. How much ice is in Antarctica?
98% of Antarctica is covered by ice. The total area covered by ice is equal to the area of the United States and Europe combined. That’s a lot of ice.
The deepest ice in Antarctica is 2 and a half miles deep! If you wanted to cut a stair case from the surface of the ice to the rocks at the bottom, you would have to build more than 19,800 average-sized steps. There are usually only 11-12 steps from the first floor of a home to the second floor. That means you would have to climb to the second floor of your home and back down again 825 times if you want to climb the thickness of the ice in Antarctica. Go ahead and try it - and let us know if you are successful!
There are a lot of interesting things about Antarctica, and we'll try to share some of those with you as we begin our journey.
Over the coming weeks Ms. Niccoli's first graders and Mr. Brad's preschoolers will be joining us on our science expedition in Antarctica. While we (a science team from various parts of the world) work in sub-freezing conditions and sleep on ice for several weeks on end, the students will be enjoying the adventure from their warm and cozy classrooms. Feel free to follow along on our adventure together.
Scroll down to the bottom of this page to read a little about our science team.