What is the history of Antarctica?
Antarctica was first discovered in 1820 but was never reached until 1911 because of its icy paths. The first explorer to reach it was Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer (Lawson).
Scientists believe that Antarctica used to be part of a giant super continent called Gondwanaland. This theory is proven by fossils found in Antarctica that were not native to the region. As Antarctica moved into more polar regions it started forming glaciers this probably took place around 38 million years ago but the glaciers didn’t start rapidly growing till only around the last 13 million years (Lawson).

What is Antarctica’s climate like?
Temperatures in Antarctica never exceed 32 degrees and have been as low as -128.6 degrees. Gusts of Wind usually hit the coast at 120 miles per hour (Lawson).
This region has been called a “polar desert” because it has very little rainfall or snowfall and freezing climate (Lawson).

What are some physical features of Antarctica?
Antarctica covers 5,400,000 square miles of the Earth. “This is larger than Europe or Australia” (Lawson). It is made up of two thick ice sheets that are split by the Transantarctic Mountains. Most of the ice that covers Antarctica is 7,100 feet thick. Antarctica’s glaciers and ice sheets contain 90% of the world’s fresh water. Underneath all this ice lies mountains, lowlands, and valleys (Lawson).
Antarctica is made up of different types of ice. One of these types of ice is called Sea Ice. “Sea ice is only a few meters thick” (National). It can vary in amounts during the year. In February around 3 million kilometers squared, to 20 million kilometers squared in October (National).
Antarctica also consists of ice streams. Ice streams can be around 50 meters wide and 2000 meters thick. And 100’s of kilometers long. They can flow speeds of up to 1000 meters per year (National).
There are also several mountains in Antarctica one is the Transantarctic Mountain range and the Ellsworth Mountain range. The highest peak of these two mountains is Vinson Massif which is 4397 kilometers tall (National).

What type of wildlife and plant life live in Antarctica?
There is generally very little plant life in Antarctica due to the fact it is to cold to sustain most life but there are a few mosses, grasses, and herbs. These plants usually grow on the sunny side of slopes so that they have enough sunlight to survive (Lawson).
There are also some organisms like algae and lichens that grow in Antarctica. Along with insects like midge (which is a kind of flightless fly), lice, mites, and ticks. These are mostly found on the bigger animals that live in the area. (Lawson).
Antarctica has many different fish along its shore some of these fish are antarctic cod, icefish, and plunderfish. There is also krill and squid. But the biggest water animal in the area is the whales.
There are several types of whales in this area, blue whales, humpback whales, minke whales right whales, and sei whales. Out of all these whales the blue whale is the largest growing up to 100 feet long. (Lawson).
Another animal found in the region are seals there are also several types of whales that occupy the region. These are the fur seal, elephant seal, weddel seal, leapord seal, ross seal, and crabeater seal. Most of the seals feed on smaller animals in the region such as squid, krill, and penguins. (Lawson).
The most common animal people hear about in the region is penguins. There are 16-18 different types of Penguins but only some of them live in Antarctica. Penguins used to be birds of flight but adapted to the water environment and their wings became flippers. This happened because it is more convenient for them to catch food this way. Some types of Penguins can dive up to 850 feet below the surface and can stay there for around 18 minutes at a time, in temperatures of 40 degrees below zero. “In these temperatures a human might last around 10 minutes.” (Snavely) Penguin’s fur and metabolism are what they use to keep warm so it’s important to have food for nutrition. They are also able to use small amounts of food and make them last a long time. (Snavely).
Of all these animals most only live there for certain times of the year and not year round because the conditions can get to harsh.

Why is it not inhabited by more humans?
Antarctica is a hard place to reach without the right equipment. Ships have to go past towering glaciers to get to Antarctica and planes have to land on icy runways. “In some areas, the ice sheets break and form deep crevasses that are a major hazard to people who visit Antarctica.”(Lawson).
Now that technology is getting better more tourists have started visiting but most still don’t live there because it is preserved for research. “About 1,000 scientists, pilots, and other specialists live there each summer.”(Lawson) Few stay for the winter (Lawson).
There are also expenses to ship in food and other supplies since there are minimum resources there.
These are major reasons we haven’t built communities in Antarctica.


Sources
• Snavely, Kathryn. “Penguins.” Bale Encyclopedia of Science. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Lerner. 3rd ed. Vol.4. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 3002-3005. Science Collection. Web. 9 Apr. 2010
• National Environment Research Council. "Sea Ice, Ice Streams Rocks and Ozone." British Antarctic Survey. Investor in People, 2007. Web. 22 Apr. 2010. <http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/index.php>.
• Lawson, Wendy. "Antarctica." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2010. Web. 26 April 2010.