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Creepy Antarctica

Grab your parkas, put on those winter boots, don't forget those big ol mittens and hang out with us tonight as we head to the place where the coldest temperature on earth has ever been recorded, a mild -89.2°C (-128.6°F). Maybe we should bring swim trunks instead, eh? Well, aside from the coldest temps known anywhere, there is also possibly Nazis, maybe a hole to the center of the earth, a blood waterfall, and giant sea spiders with legs ranging up to 70cm, and for those of you who aren't sure if that's big or not cus we’re a bunch of archaic buttholes that don't do metric… It's big.. Like close to 28 inches big… oh and how could we forget… the Penguins!! Lots of penguins! Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, we're heading to Antarctica! We're going to be discussing the continent and find out a little about it and then we'll talk about some creepy natural things going on and of course creepy conspiracies. It should be a fun one so let's get going!!!

So let's learn a little about Antarctica first off. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Most of Antarctica is a polar desert, with annual precipitation of 200 mm (8 in) along the coast and far less inland; yet 80% of the world's freshwater reserves are stored there, enough to raise global sea levels by about 60 metres (200 ft) if all of it were to melt. The temperature in Antarctica has dropped to −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) (or even −94.7 °C or −138.5 °F, as measured from space), although the average for the third quarter (the coldest part of the year) is −63 °C (−81 °F). Organisms native to Antarctica include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Vegetation, where it occurs, is tundra. Wanna know some fun facts… Well, tough shit negative Nancy, we're gonna tell ya anyways.

1. Antarctica holds most of the world’s fresh water

An incredible 60-90% of the world’s freshwater is locked in Antarctica’s vast ice sheet. The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest on Earth, covering an incredible 14 million km² (5.4 million square miles) of Antarctic mountain ranges, valleys and plateaus. This leaves only 1% of Antarctica permanently ice-free. Some areas are ice-free in the summer, including many of the areas we visit on the Antarctic Peninsula.

At its deepest, Antarctica’s ice is 4.5km (2.7 miles) thick – that’s half the height of Mt Everest! Again, If it all melted, global sea levels would rise about 60 m (200 ft).

2. As mentioned, Antarctica is a desert

With all of that fresh water held in the ice sheet, how could Antarctica be a desert?

When most of us think of deserts we think of sand dunes, cactuses and sizzling temperatures, but technically a desert doesn’t have to be hot or sandy, it’s more about how much precipitation the area receives as rain, snow, mist or fog. A desert is any region that receives very little annual precipitation.

The average annual rainfall at the South Pole over the past 30 years was just over 10 mm (0.4 in). Although there is more precipitation towards the coast, the average across the continent is low enough to classify Antarctica as a polar desert.

So, while Antarctica may be covered in ice, it has taken an incredible 45 million years to grow to its current thickness, because so little rain falls there.

As well as being one of the driest continents on Earth, Antarctica is also the coldest, windiest and highest.

3. Antarctica used to be as warm as Melbourne Australia!

Given that the coldest ever land temperature was recorded in Antarctica of -89.2°C (-128.6°F), it can be hard to imagine Antarctica as a warm, temperate paradise. But Antarctica hasn’t always been an icy land locked in the grip of a massive ice sheet. In fact, Antarctica was once almost as warm as Melbourne is today.

Researchers have estimated that 40-50 million years ago, temperatures across Antarctica reached up to 17°C (62.6°F). Scientists have also found fossils showing that Antarctica was once covered with verdant green forests and inhabited by dinosaurs!

4. The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth

The Antarctic Peninsula is warming more quickly than many other areas on Earth. In fact, it is one of the most rapidly warming areas on the planet. Over the past 50 years, average temperatures across the Antarctic Peninsula have increased by 3°C (37.4°F), five times the average increase on Earth.

This has led to some changes, for example where and when penguins form colonies and sea ice forms. It also means that the lush mosses of the Antarctic Peninsula have a slightly longer growing season.

5. There is no Antarctic time zone

The question of time in Antarctica is a tricky one. At the South Pole the lines of longitude, which give us different time zones around the globe, all meet at a single point. Most of Antarctica experiences 6 months of constant daylight in summer and 6 months of darkness in winter. Time starts to feel a little different without the normal markers for day and night.

Scientists working in Antarctica generally stay in the time zone of the country they departed from, but this can cause some issues. For example, on the Antarctic Peninsula you can find stations from Chile, China, Russia, the UK and many other countries. You can imagine that if all of these neighbouring stations keep to their home time zones it could get a little confusing trying to share data and resources without accidentally waking one another up in the middle of the night!

For travellers with Aurora Expeditions, they generally stay on Ushuaia time – unless they’re travelling to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Then they adjust to their local times, changing as they travel.

6. Every way is north!

If you stand at the South Pole, you are at the southernmost point on Earth. It doesn’t matter which way you look, every direction is north. So why do we talk about the Antarctic Peninsula as being in West Antarctica, and the section directly south of Australia as East Antarctica?

It’s based on the prime meridian, an imaginary line which passes through Greenwich in the UK at 0 degrees of longitude. If you stand at the South Pole and face towards Greenwich, everything to your left is west Antarctica and everything to your right is east Antarctica. Got that?

7. Antarctica has active volcanoes

Antarctica is home to several volcanoes and two of them are active. Mount Erebus, the second-highest volcano in Antarctica, is the southernmost active volcano on Earth. Located on Ross Island, this icebound volcano has some unique features such as ice fumaroles and twisted ice statues that form around gases that seep from vents near the volcanic crater.

The first ascent of Mt Erebus was made in 1908, when a team led by Australian scientist Edgeworth David, and including Douglas Mawson, completed an arduous and very chilly five day climb to the steaming crater.

The second active volcano is on Deception Island, a volcanic caldera in the South Shetland Islands. Once home to a thriving whaling station and later a scientific station, it was abandoned after the most recent eruption in 1969, and today it is a fascinating place that we visit on some of our Antarctic Peninsula voyages.

8. Antarctica has its own Treaty

When humans caught their first glimpse of Antarctica in 1820, it was the only continent without an indigenous population. Several nations quickly made claims to the continent, which led to significant tension. While some countries argued that Antarctica was rightfully theirs, others heartily disagreed.

As tension mounted, everyone agreed on the need for a peaceful resolution. In December 1959, 12 countries signed the Antarctic Treaty, an unprecedented international agreement to govern the continent together as a reserve for peace and science. Since then, 41 other countries have signed the Treaty and participate in annual meetings, where decisions are made about how human activity in Antarctica is managed. All decisions made within the Antarctic Treaty System are made by consensus, with collaboration and agreement as the central pillars. Today, the Antarctic Treaty System has expanded to include strict guidelines for commercial fishing, sealing, and a complete ban on mining and mineral exploration.

We got those fun facts from Aurora expeditions. Com

So let's look at some of the weird natural phenomena that goes on in Antarctica.

You guys like weird sounds? Well we got weird sounds for you. Scientists and researchers at the Ross ice shelf have recorded a slow seismic hum being generated by wind whipping across the Antarctic ice shelves. The scientists also discovered that the frequency of the vibrations changed in response to changing weather conditions on the shelf — when the temperature rose or fell, for instance, and when storms resculpted the shelf's snow dunes. The firn was "alive with vibration," Douglas MacAyeal, a glaciologist at the University of Chicago, said in a written commentary that accompanied the paper. "This vibration was found to be driven by the wind blowing across the firn layer and interacting with the intrinsic roughness of the surface called sastrugi." MacAyeal also offered a more poetic description of the sound, comparing it to "the buzz produced by thousands of cicada bugs when they overrun the tree canopy and grasses in late summer."

Julien Chaput, a geophysicist and mathematician at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the leader of the research, told NBC News MACH in an email that the sound was "a little like yodeling, except with 10 people all singing in dissonance. It's a little eerie." But the singing ice is more than a sonic curiosity. Chaput and his colleagues argue in their paper that it might be possible to tap into seismic data to help monitor the health of ice shelves, which have been thinning in response to global warming — and causing sea levels to rise around the world. so that's all pretty crazy. Antarctica is singing to us. (Play sound)

Ever hear of a solar pillar? Well you're about to. The air in Antarctica is frequently very dry. The low temperatures mean that little or no water vapour is held in the air, instead it freezes and falls out, or builds up on surfaces as frost. Sometimes however, depending on the particular atmospheric conditions, the frozen water vapour remains in the air as suspended ice crystals. In these conditions the crystals can reflect sunlight in a variety of ways forming atmospheric phenomena of different types.

One of these phenomena is the "Solar Pillar" in the picture. The sun is reflected very strongly off tiny suspended flat ice crystals in the air which are oriented at or almost horizontally, so that the reflection is almost as bright as the sun itself. Like a rainbow, this sight depends on the viewing angle, where the light is coming from and where the observer is standing. The pillar appears to move when the observer moves, but always remains directly below the sun because the ice crystals are found throughout the air but only act as mirrors for the sun at the correct viewing angle.

Most of you have heard of the northern lights, but did you know there are southern lights? The Southern Lights, commonly known as the Aurora Australis, is one of the world’s greatest wonders. The Southern lights are much more elusive than their Northern Hemisphere counterpart-Aurora Borealis. There is significantly less land mass in the Southern Hemisphere and fewer ideal viewing spots to see the Aurora. However, the Southern Lights are just as, if not more, impressive. Boasting a breathtaking colour palette that goes beyond the green and blues commonly seen at the Northern Lights, to include pinks, purples, oranges and golds.

Here's a little nerdy science for ya: The Aurora Australis phenomenon occurs when charged particles from solar winds bombard the Earth’s atmosphere and interact with gases in our planet.

These highly energised particles are emitted from the sun and smash into the Earth’s magnetic field at more than 6 million kilometres per hour.

For the most part, Earth is protected from solar winds by the magnetosphere, which sounds like Magneto from the X-Men franchise’s bachelor pad. The magnetosphere is a region of space that surrounds the Earth's magnetic field and has a primary purpose of preventing cosmic rays, such as solar winds from entering Earth’s atmosphere. However, occasionally, at particular times of the year, a few charged particles from solar winds make their way through the magnetosphere into our atmosphere. The charged particles move along the Earth's magnetic field lines towards the south and north pole. When they reach the each pole, they collide with atoms in the atmosphere, particularly nitrogen and oxygen, and become increasingly charged. Once the electrons settle back down to their normal level of excitement they glow, creating the magnificent light display, we know as an Aurora.

One more fun natural thing for you guys and probably the creepiest. BLOOD FALLS! THIS FIVE-STORY, BLOOD-RED WATERFALL POURS very slowly out of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys. When geologists first discovered the frozen waterfall in 1911, they thought the red color came from algae, but it's true nature turned out to be much more spectacular.

Roughly two million years ago, the Taylor Glacier sealed beneath it a small body of water which contained an ancient community of microbes. Trapped below a thick layer of ice, they have remained there ever since, isolated inside a natural time capsule. Evolving independently of the rest of the living world, these microbes exist in a place with no light or free oxygen and little heat, and are essentially the definition of “primordial ooze.” The trapped lake has very high salinity and is rich in iron, which gives the waterfall its red color. A fissure in the glacier allows the subglacial lake to flow out, forming the falls without contaminating the ecosystem within. If you've never seen the falls it's pretty awesome and metal. We'll post pics for sure.

Ok so enough of the sciency and nerdy stuff let's get into the crazy shit.

The first one is a fun one. In 2020 a clip from Google Earth was loaded onto youtube showing what appears to be an ice ship! So what exactly is it? Well friends, it depends on what you want to believe. The video sparked a conversation of epic conspiracy proportions! Some think that the "ship" is something connected to a secret Nazi base, which we’ll get to later. Others claim ties to the secret elite and illuminati.

“I was told a couple of years ago that there are ships built underground somewhere on upper east coast (like the ones in the movie 2012) to save the rich and powerful when canary islands get hit with massive earthquake that will take out east coast,” one commenter wrote.

Other theory's range from military and government cover ups to some claiming it to be Noah's ark. The mundane exfoliation is that it's our minds playing a trick on us… but that’s fucking lame and we’re going with the fact that it's something creepy and crazy!!

Another fun thing found by Google Earth is a giant mountain sized alien face. Yes you heard right. And if you don't think this is leading to crazy talk… You are seriously mistaken.

Conspiracy theorists Blake and Brett Cousins – of YouTube channel thirdphaseofmoon – shared their thoughts on the Google Earth image.

"It appears to be a massive, ancient structure of some kind of face that is being revealed for the first time on Google Earth,” Blake said in his video.

"I would have to concur that whatever we’re looking at resembles some sort of megastructure."

Brett added: "Could this be something that was left behind by the ancient civilisations of Antarctica?

"Ice melting could be revealing structures that would baffle the world."

There it is folks, a giant alien face structure hiding a civilization under Antarctica. Can't argue with the facts. I mean I guess you could say that it's just a case of pareidolia but that's not really that fun so… You know… Alien civilization it is.

Speaking of aliens, A video posted to an “alien" sub-section on Reddit shows how zooming in on a certain area of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands reveals a mysterious vast section of disturbed snow. It shows what looks like something that crashed into the snow and skidded some 3000ft. Of course that brought out the nut jobs, and moody, claiming that it is a ufo crash site.

Reddit user Hey-man-Shabozi captioned the post: "What’s over 200ft long, casts a shadow of 50ft, and appears to have crashed on an antarctic island, moving so fast that it slid over 3,000ft?”

The island, located near Antarctica, has a strange snow formation in the area near Mount Carse.

It looks very similar to an avalanche but the video posted on Reddit goes into detail about how it could be more than what it seems. The main point of contention for the Reddit user is that there appears to be a long thin object that has created a lengthy straight track away from the disrupted area as if it crashed at speed. The Reddit user estimated that the tracks were more than 3,000 feet long.

He also claims to have worked out that the object responsible was 200 feet long.

Let's be honest… If you can't trust a reddit user… Who can you trust these days? Of course most people will say “oh it was just a big rock falling during an avalanche”, but everyone else who actually knows… They know it's a ufo. And they all know that the claims of a rock falling during an avalanche is just another global cover up to hide the fact that there are aliens.