random crap you didn't know about Antarctica

Is it weird to be homesick for a place you've never been? I hope not because at various times after finishing a really immersive book series or long-running TV show (I don't think most movies are long enough), I'm homesick for that world. I can't be the only person who's ever been homesick for Hogwarts or for more time with the Adamas. 

Anyway, I'm currently homesick for Antarctica. I've been doing so much research about this amazing continent, particularly reading first-hand accounts from personal blogs of travelers to the region that I feel like I'm really missing out now. 

Here are my favorite things I've learned:

  • Most people's biggest complaint is the dryness, not the cold. Antarctica is a desert, and apparently you can't drink enough water or smear on enough Chapstick to combat the skin-cracking.
  • It's not always that cold. In Antarctic summer, it's often above freezing near the coast.
  • The "South Pole" itself has only had a permanent base since 1956 (Admunsen-Scott Base), and this station experiences one extremely long "day" and one extremely long "night" each year -- only one sunrise and one sunset for the entire 12 pages of a calendar.
  • Antarctica is vastly unexplored. The bits we've seen and the teeny weeny bits humans have studied don't even scratch the surface.
  • Antarctica is super big. Here's a size comparison from NASA showing the continental US (population 306 million) vs Antarctica (population 1,000 in winter and 4,000 in summer).
From https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/multimedia/fall11/antarctica-US.html

From https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/multimedia/fall11/antarctica-US.html

  • Snowdrifts in Antarctica look a lot like sand dunes in the hot deserts.  And they have the BEST NAME EVER -- sastrugi. (Which sounds like something Italian I'd love to eat.)
From https://www.passcal.nmt.edu/~bob/passcal/antarctica/ant15.html

From https://www.passcal.nmt.edu/~bob/passcal/antarctica/ant15.html

  • The biggest station (McMurdo) has over 85 buildings and operates like a small city. Here's a live cam if you ever want to see the station. It has a hospital, a fire station, a post office, bars (yes more than one) and everything else you'd expect to make living their pretty efficient.

I want to go to there. -Me, quoting Liz Lemon