Mount Fuji in Japan is more than 12,300 feet tall. It’s not exactly inconspicuous. But researchers from the British Antarctic Survey recently found a chain of more than a dozen mountains the size of Mount Fuji. How did these massive formations go unnoticed for so long? They are underwater, just off the coast of Antarctica. This seems to confirm the old saying that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the depths of the oceans.
But Antarctica itself is no open book. It is the coldest continent, with temperatures routinely dropping to -40 degrees fahrenheit and with the potential to reach to -130 degrees fahrenheit. It is also a remarkably dry continent, receiving an average of less than 8 inches of precipitation per year.
In researching this post however, I learned that there are areas of Antarctica that have no snow. (I also learned that .aq is the top-level domain for Antarctica. Who knew?) Antarctica also has its own form of government (sort of) laid out in the Antarctic Treaty. In it, Antarctica is essentially preserved as a research territory; no territorial claims may be made on it and it may be used for only peaceful, scientific purposes (no nukes). There are 48 nations that have signed onto the Treaty, representing about two-thirds of the planet’s population. There are about 5,000 people that live across the continent for various parts of the year occupying about 70 permanent and seasonal stations and about 30 temporary field camps. You can find a link to the locations of all of the stations on Google Maps here.