The climate and weather of Antarctica
Yesterday you learned about the difference between 'weather and climate'.
There are many places on earth and all has different weather and falls in different 'climatic regions', but lets have a look at one of the coldest places on earth, Antarctica.
Most of it is covered by ice but because of 'climatic changes' and 'global warming', scientist are very worried about the ice melting and the effect it has on this region and on the animal life.
- Can you remember what is the meaning of 'global warming?' Have a look at the video and write a few sentences on what you know about this.
Even though Antarctica is covered by ice, it can still be called a desert, because it gets such a little bit of rain (which is called 'precipitation') and for long times none at all.
There are also very strong winds blowing here and the average temperature is about -50 degrees Celsius (Brrrr that is colder than your freezer.)
But why is this such a dry and cold place?
- Some parts of the winter it will be dark for 24 hours at a time, which means not a lot of sunlight reaches Antarctica.
- Because of all the ice, most of the sunlight is reflected (send back) into outer space.
- The cold air cannot hold so much 'water vapor' (water in gas form) as the hot air, so it does not rain a lot.
Antarctica is covered with ice and at some place the ice can be as thick as 2.5 km (what? that is very very thick). At some places you will see the top of mountains stick out above the 'ice sleet' and we call it 'Nunataks'
We find icebergs in Antarctica - what is an iceberg?
A glacier (this is like a mountain made of snow that is 'compressed' and has become hard) moves around and as they move, they will crack and huge holes and 'crevasses' will form. Parts of the glacier will fall off and this is then called an iceberg.
- After you have watched the video, answer the following questions
- What is another name for 'glaciers'?
- In which country will you not find glaciers in the mountains?
- How will a glacier form?
- Why will the glacier move?
- Do they move slow or fast?
- Why can we say that glaciers 'are powerful'?
- Name a few ways in which the glaciers can shape the environment.
- What is 'erosion'?
The 'ozone layer' that protects us from the harmful rays of the sun is very thin over Antarctica.
We find a few kinds of animals in Antarctica like different types of seals and penguins and whales and birds called albatrosses. These animals have adapted that they can survive in this very cold climate.
- What does it mean if animals are adapted to the cold climate?
- Have a look at the beautiful photos of some of the animal life in Antarctica https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/photos/antarctic-animals/
- Choose one animal that interests you and find extra information on it.