Encyclopedia of Snow, Ice and Glaciers

2011 Edition
| Editors: Vijay P. Singh, Pratap Singh, Umesh K. Haritashya


  • Rasik RavindraEmail author
  • Arun Chaturvedi
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2642-2_21


Antarctica is the southernmost continent on the globe, the fifth largest of the seven continents on the earth. The name originated from “Anti-Arctic,” which was used to denote an imaginary landmass, postulated on the opposite pole of the globe with respect to the Arctic (Bernadette Hince, 2000). Much later, in the 1820s, it was first sighted from ship (U.S. Congress, 1989).


Today, Antarctica is defined as the entire area of land–ice–water south of the Antarctic Circle (i.e., South of 66° 33 min), where there is at least 1 day of 24-h sun during the polar summer. However, for purposes of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), “all areas south of 60° South Latitude” are included in this demarcation (Bastmeijer, 2003).

The Antarctic continent has an area of ∼14 million km2. It is surrounded on all sides by the Southern Ocean. In every winter, the seawater surrounding the continent freezes from ∼600 to ∼1,000 km from the coast. During peak winter, the area of the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean ResearchHeadland Sada, Vasco-Da-GamaGoaIndia
  2. 2.Antartic DivisionGeological Survey of IndiaFaridabadIndia