Have you every tried typing Antarctica into Google maps? Well I just did and it isn’t very helpful.
Let me fill in the gaps of google maps. Antarctica is over 8,800 miles (~14,200 km) from Stanford. This a little further than traveling from Stanford to Mumbai India. Researchers often get to Antarctica by first flying to the southern tip of Chile or Tasmania and then flying to one of the field stations you see pictured below.
A few of these stations operate year round but most are seasonal. These stations are usually jumping off points to then go to a field site for actual data collection.
So other than scientists and people operating the stations, what lives in Antarctica? As you may recall from March of the Penguins or Happy Feet, Antarctica is home to lots of penguins. In fact approximately 12 million of them are found across the continent (five species: emperor, Adélie, chinstrap, gentoo and macaroni).
There are no polar bears in Antarctica. This is a common misconception but polar bears only live in the arctic. (Did you catch this error in the cartoon?) Antarctica is also home to many types of sea-creatures including lots of whales.
It’s also the driest place in the world. Yes you read that right. By definition, Antarctica is a desert. In the Antarctic interior, it is so arid that the snow fall equivalent is as low as 51 mm (~2 inches) of rain per year making it drier than the Sahara. How can Antarctica possibly be this dry? More next time!