8 julio, 2024

Antarctic Circle: location, characteristics, flora and fauna

He Antarctic polar circle It refers to one of the circles that crosses the south of the Earth by a straight line, also being called a notable parallel. The Antarctic Circle is located in the southern hemisphere of planet Earth. It is one of the four terrestrial circles next to the Equator, the Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn, and the Arctic Circle.

In the Antarctic polar circle the polar night and the polar day occur. The first is the event in which the night lasts 24 hours. Meanwhile, the polar day, or midnight sun, refers to the time of year when the sun remains above the horizon 24 hours a day.

The polar night occurs in the Antarctic Circle during the winter solstice (which occurs in June), while the midnight sun develops in summer (which coincides with December). These events occur in opposite ways at the arctic circle, which is the northernmost parallel on earth.

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History

It is not known exactly who discovered that the Antarctic Circle existed. Some historians claim that the English explorer James Cook was the first to make a voyage into the Antarctic Circle, a voyage that occurred in 1773, according to records.

At present, excursion cruises are made to the Antarctic Circle. The first pleasure trip occurred in 1966 when Lars-Eric Lindblad organized a cruise. Over the years more companies have exploited this cold destination.

Location and countries

The Antarctic Circle has a circumference of almost 16 thousand kilometers. The area south of the line that determines the circle has an area of ​​about 20 million square kilometers. This area represents about 4% of the total surface of the earth.

The Arctic continent and the South Temperate Zone are separated by the Antarctic Circle. Even Antarctica is almost entirely within the circle. It is the only continent crossed by the Antarctic circle, which also passes through the southern ocean and the Balleny Islands.

The Antarctic continent has no owner, although nearby countries have claimed part of its territory. So the Antarctic circle passes through areas claimed by Argentina, Chile, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway and France, all countries that border the circle.

The position of the Antarctic circle is not somewhat stable. Its latitude varies according to the axial inclination of the earth andCurrently (since 2017) it is located at 66º 33′ 47.7″ south of the Equator. Every year the circle moves south at a speed of 15 meters.

Characteristics

The existence of human population in the zone of the Antarctic polar circle is practically nil. There are some groups of scientists that inhabit research stations, but their presence in the parallel is rotating. The groups change along with the seasons of the year.

In previous years there were also whaling stations. There is a record that at least three people were born in Antarctica, but it occurred in stations that are located further north of the polar circle.

The climate present in the area varies greatly. Some excursions go close to the polar circle to Detaille Island, where you can experience temperatures from 0 to -7ºC depending on the time of year.

Farther south, temperatures drop much more and the average temperature in Antarctica is -55ºC.

Differences and similarities with the arctic

The polar circles are known to be the coldest areas on the planet, but temperatures are slightly cooler at the south pole than at the north.

The reason is because a continent is located in the Antarctic polar circle and this block of land allows a higher altitude to exist. The north pole, on the other hand, is in the middle of the ocean.

The seasons of the year are opposite at both ends. When the winter solstice occurs in one place, the summer solstice occurs in the other circle.

Both areas of the earth have long periods in which the day and night can last up to 24 hours.

Ecosystems are also different. Although both have the same distance from the equator.

Flora and fauna

Depending on the area of ​​the Antarctic circle the ecosystem can be very different. In some areas it is possible to enjoy the presence of penguins, whales, seals and even some seabirds.

The vegetation is almost nil. Almost entirely it has to do with a type of something or fungus known as a lichen.

Antarctica is a less species-friendly site, unlike the Arctic Circle. This is because there are large expanses of ice, without vegetation. The animals can be found further towards the coasts of the continent, with areas made up of groups of seals and penguins that make up large colonies.

There is also a presence of orcas and, at the time, the whales were so popular that they mobilized people to the area to develop an industry around them. Some of the species to review are:

– Emperor penguin: eIt’s the greatest of all. He is almost five feet tall and weighs about 40 kilos.

– Adélie penguins: yesIts colonies are abundant, so it usually inhabits places where it generates a lot of noise. They weigh about four kilos.

– Southern elephant seals: lThe males of the species are very different from the females. The first can weigh more than 3,500 kilos and measure almost five meters. The females, for their part, rarely exceed 800 kilos and three meters in length.

– Leopard seals: sThey are predators of penguins and other species such as waterfowl or fish. It is found further north than other extant seal species in Antarctica.

– Terrestrial invertebrates: they are very varied, being able to highlight a mosquito that has no wings and a length of just 13 millimeters.

References

Hince, B. (2000). The Antarctic dictionary. Collingwood, Australia: CSIRO Pub.
Hund, A. (2014). Antarctica and the arctic circle. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Mason, P. (2007). polar regions. London: Wayland.
Serreze, M., & Barry, R. The Arctic climate system.
Wheeler, S. (2012). The magnetic north. New York: North Point Press.

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