Busted: Common Myths About Antarctica You Might Have Gotten Wrong!

Busted: Common Myths About Antarctica You Might Have Gotten Wrong!
Neko Harbour Bay, Antarctica, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Is Antarctica really the driest place on Earth ?

Roshni Subramanian
September 13 , 2019
04 Min Read

We know what you’re thinking. The image that pops in most people’s minds is of a snow-covered desert, largely untouched by human activities and to a large extent populated by polar bears and penguins. The majestic landscape and remoteness of Antarctica has kept it shrouded in mystery. While a lot of people might not give this white wilderness much thought, Antarctica still remains a popular choice of many explorers. Though a lot of tourists do opt for an Antarctic Cruise, but the endless misconceptions about travelling to Antarctica, end up hampering all such plans. From climate change to civilization, there have been a lot of speculations and some completely absurd theories about what goes around in Antarctica. Here’s the truth behind the myths that you might have heard about Antarctica.

It’s always freezing there!

Grotto Glacier, near Antarctic Peninsula

Yes! Antarctica is one of the coldest places on the planet with the lowest temperature being recorded as -89.4 degree celsius once. However the mid summers are a lot more bearable. Along the coastlines, one can usually experience a warmer temperature. The temperature also varies according to the place that you’re recording from. It doesn’t really rain or snow in Antarctica, but when it does, the low precipitation doesn’t let the snow melt!

No one lives in Antarctica

Tourists near Cuverville Island, Antarctic Peninsula

Well, there are no states and cities in Antarctica and there has been no trace of any native population, but that doesn’t really mean that nobody lives there. One can find groups of scientists, explorers and researchers spending months together at the continent studying the patterns of climate change and conducting scientific research round the year at various scientific bases. Antarctica also welcomes tourists throughout the year for short term stays ranging anywhere between a few days to a week.

Antarctica is the South Pole

South Pole is a specific point in Antarctica

Blame it on the geography teacher or misinterpretation from the media, but there are a few, well, let’s call them ‘ill informed’ who believe that Antarctica and South Pole are pretty much the same place. To set the record straight, Antarctica is the southernmost region of the Earth, whereas South Pole is a specific geographical point in Antarctica. What is even more fascinating is that in fact there are two South Poles. One is the South Geomagnetic Pole which is the southernmost point of the Earth and the other is the South Magnetic Pole from where geomagnetic field lines travel towards the north.    

The size of the continent

Antarctica Glacier

There have been a fair share of misunderstandings about the actual size of this snow desert. While some perceive it to be way bigger than what it is, others think of it as relatively smaller.Well, blame the size distortions on the map makers. In an attempt to replicate the planet’s curvature on a flat surface, cartographers often end up altering the size of many continents, Antarctica’s position being distorted more than others.Antarctica is in fact the fifth largest continent in the world with an area spanning over 14,000,000 sq km. 

Penguin V/s Polar Bear Debate

A colony of Penguins in Antarctica

 This can be termed as the ‘Arctic - Antarctic confusion’. In reality, polar bears and penguins live on the opposite ends of the Earth. While penguins are generally found in the Southern Hemisphere and in Antarctica in particular, polar bears can be seen only in The Arctic. Courtesy cartoons and children’s books, these two polar animals have been put together time and again. The animals that one can find in Antarctica are seals and walruses. Though they are calm most of the time, but invade their privacy and one can witness their aggressive side.

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