f99u3le1 - ANTARCTIC Unit 3. Antarctic Oceanography Lesson...

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©P ROJECT O CEANOGRAPHY A NTARCTIC O CEANOGRAPHY 87 A NTARCTIC Unit 3. Antarctic Oceanography Lesson 1. – Overview and Research Stations Lesson Objectives: Introduces the continent of Antarctica and the oceans that surround it The student will learn about the geography, history and climate. The second section of this chapter discusses research stations and the scientists who live on the frozen continent. Antarctica is a continent located at the southern-most point of the globe. Millions of years ago, this landmass was attached to a giant landmass that consisted of modern-day South America, India and Africa. Powerful underground forces ripped a large piece of land from this giant landmass, which then drifted to its current position at the bottom of the globe. It is surrounded on all sides by the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Antarctica's cold, thick hard covering, called an ice sheet, began to form 25 million years ago. The ice in Antarctica locks up more than two-thirds of the planet's fresh water. If the Antarctic ice were to melt, the sea would rise almost 200 feet. It is the only continent that man had left untouched for millions of years. Antarctica is considered the coldest and driest continent on earth. Temperatures decrease as one moves from the coastal regions inland. Temperatures during the long, dark winters
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©P ROJECT O CEANOGRAPHY A NTARCTIC O CEANOGRAPHY 88 A NTARCTIC range from –4 ° F to –22 ° F on the coast, -40 ° F to –90 ° F inland. During the summers, coastal temperatures average 32 ° F (occasionally climbing to 50 ° F), while the inland summer temperatures range from –4 ° F to –31 ° F. The lowest temperature recorded in Antarctic history was in 1983, a chilling -129 ο F. This is colder than the surface of Mars. When water was thrown into the air, it froze before it hit the ground. Antarctica receives less snow than you may think. Actually, it only snows an average of 10" per year on the coast, and less than 2" inland. Because it is so cold, the snow never melts. Blizzards are produced not by falling snow, but when high winds (100- 200mph) blow ground snow around, creating blinding conditions and snowdrifts that can cover local research stations in an hour. The snowfall has accumulated over several million years to make Antarctica's average elevation 2.5 miles above sea level, making it the highest continent. But in a sense, it is also the lowest continent: the landmass itself, because of the weight of all that snow, has been pushed down so heavily that some parts of the continent are actually under sea level. History Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, believed that if the world was round, then there must be a continent at the bottom of the globe holding all the other continents in place.
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This note was uploaded on 07/31/2011 for the course OCB 6050 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at University of South Florida - Tampa.

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f99u3le1 - ANTARCTIC Unit 3. Antarctic Oceanography Lesson...

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