11 Cold Hard Facts About Antarctica

If you're planning a trip to Antarctica, here are some things you should know.

1. Nobody owns Antarctica.

Although a few nations, including Australia, Argentina, and the United Kingdom, have tried to lay claim to it over the years, it remains free of government and ownership. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty was drafted, designating the land as "a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science." 48 nations have signed the treaty.

The Admiral Richard E. Byrd Memorial at McMurdo Station. Photo via the US Embassy New Zealand's Flickr account, from the album of the ambassador's trip to Antarctica.

2. Antarctica is the only continent without a time zone.

The scientists who reside there go by either the time of their home land or the supply line that brings them food and equipment.

3. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth.

The annual average temperature is -58° F. And the lowest temperature ever recorded there was -128.5° F, in 1983.

4. There's a very good reason to hope Antarctica remains that cold.

If global warming were to cause its ice sheets to melt, ocean levels across the world would rise by 200-210 feet.

A large melt pool (a shallow pool appearing on an ice surface in summer) in the sea ice. Photo by Flickr user Eli Duke, from his Antarctica: All Photos set.

5. Not only is it the coldest place, but it's also the driest.

The average precipitation is about 10 cm per year. Yet for all its dryness, Antarctica holds about 70% of the earth's water... in the form of solid ice, of course. (That amounts to 90% of all the ice on the planet.) Antarctica's Dry Valleys are where the combination of cold and dry is the most intense. It hasn't rained there for more than 2 million years. The ground and climate so closely resemble the surface of Mars that NASA did testing there for the Viking mission.

6. There are no permanent residents in Antarctica.

The only people who live there are visiting scientists. During the summer, the number averages about 5,000. In the winter, it drops to 1,000.

Photo of Antarctica residents by Flickr user Eli Duke, from his Antarctica: Week 1 set.

7. One of the things that the scientists study are ice cores.

These long cylindrical samples of Antarctica's ice, with dust and air bubbles trapped inside, can provide a wealth of information about the earth's climate over the past 10,000 years. If the scientist melted one of the ice cores, he could give you a drink of water that was frozen during the Middle Ages, or even during the life of Jesus Christ.

8. If you're interested in meteorites, Antarctica is for you.

For one, meteorites that crash there are easily seen against the ice. They are also better preserved, as they quickly get covered by ice, protecting them from corrosion. Since 1970, there have been more than 10,000 meteorites discovered in Antarctica, a few up to 700,000 years old.

An iron meteorite at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Photo by Flickr user brookpeterson, from his Antarctica 2011 - McMurdo Life set.

9. Icebergs are also big in Antarctica. Literally.

In 2000, one of the biggest icebergs ever recorded broke free from the Ross ice shelf. It was 183 miles long and 23 miles wide, with a surface area of 4,250 square miles above water – and 10 times bigger below. Imagine if Connecticut was solid ice. That's about the size of it.

Aerial photo of the birth of an iceberg from NASA's IceBridge mission from the NASA's Earth Observatory Flickr account.

10. Remember the documentary film March of the Penguins?
It was shot in Antarctica.

The native Emperor Penguins return to the same ancestral breeding ground there every winter. They are the tallest and heaviest of all penguins, and, because they breed almost exclusively on ice, they are thought to be the only species of bird that never sets foot on land.

Emperor penguins in Antarctica. Photo via the US Embassy New Zealand's Flickr account, from the album of the ambassador's trip to Antarctica.

11. Antarctica grows bigger in the winter.

How? Its sea ice expands about 40,000 square miles per day, adding up to an extra 12 million square miles of ice around the land mass (the equivalent of 1.5 United States). In effect, it doubles the size of the continent. In summer the new ice breaks up and melts.

Antarctica pressure ridges, where the permanent ice shelf and seasonal ice shelf join. Photo by Flickr user Eli Duke, from his Antarctica: All Photos set.

Have any of you ever been there? Is anyone reading this in Antarctica right now?

Courtesy of Airpod
New Nap Pods—Complete with Alarm Clocks and Netflix—Set for A Trial Run at Airports This Summer
Courtesy of Airpod
Courtesy of Airpod

Sleepy travelers in Europe can soon be on the lookout for Airpods, self-contained capsules designed to help passengers relax in privacy.

For 15 euros per hour (roughly $18), travelers can charge their phones, store their luggage, and, yes, nap on a chair that reclines into a bed. The Airpods are also equipped with television screens and free streaming on Netflix, Travel + Leisure reports.

To keep things clean between uses, each Airpod uses LED lights to disinfect the space and a scent machine to manage any unfortunate odors.

The company's two Slovenian founders, Mihael Meolic and Grega Mrgole, expect to conduct a trial run of the service by placing 10 pods in EU airports late this summer. By early 2019, they expect to have 100 Airpods installed in airports around the world, though the company hasn't yet announced which EU airports will receive the first Airpods.

The company eventually plans to introduce an element of cryptocurrency to its service. Once 1000 Airpods are installed (which the company expects to happen by late 2019), customers can opt in to a "Partnership Program." With this program, participants can become sponsors of one specific Airpod unit and earn up to 80 percent of the profits it generates each month. The company's cryptocurrency—called an APOD token—is already on sale through the Airpod website.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists

Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]


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