Antarctic A Guide -Kids

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OPP-0090495

TABLE OF CONTENTS2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . GOING SOUTH 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . GETTING AROUND ANTARCTICA 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .WALKING AROUND THE WORLD 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FROZEN DESERT 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MORE ICE 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FROM THE MOON AND MARS 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . STAYING ALIVE AT 80 BELOW 11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LIFE 13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PENGUINS 14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SEALS 15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WHALES 16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NORTH POLE/SOUTH POLE 17. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .WHITE OUT 19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MOUNTAINS & VOLCANOES 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LONG DAYS/LONG NIGHTS 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S CIENCE 23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OZONE 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FRONTIERING 27. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EXPLORERS 29. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G ONDWANALAND 30 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . O WNERSHIPCOVER PHOTO DOUG ALLAN Written by Edward G. Atkins, Ph.D and Larry Engel. Designer: Jaye Medalia This book was prepared under the auspices of, and in cooperation with, the Office of Polar Programs and the Informal Science Education Program, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230. 2001 Sesame Workshop All rights reserved.

To learn more about Antarctica, go to: 2001 SESAME WORKSHOP http://tea.rice.edu/science_education/researcher_opprojects.html Reprinted with permission from SESAME WORKSHOP

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GOING SOUTH PETER MILLER

ANAR CTICA SERVIC ES, IN C.

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elcome to Antarcticathe giant continent at the bottom of the Earth. If you enjoy record-breaking facts, then Antarctica may be the place for you. Its the coldest, windiest, driest and highest continent in the world. Its also the most isolated. This world of snow and ice, of six months of darkness and six months of daylight, sits alone. It is more than 2,800 miles from Africa, 2,000 miles from Australia and New Zealand, and 650 miles from South America. Because of its location and its bitter cold, Antarctica is one of Earths last frontiers. In fact, it hadnt even been seen by anyone until 1820. Even today, no one lives there permanently. But people do visit. Some are tourists, curious about this frontier continent. Most, however, are scientists and the people who operate research stations. The scientists look for clues to Earths past and Earths future. And they study its unique wildlife. Tourists and scientists can get to Antarctica by boat or by plane. Many who go by boat travel from the tip of South America to the Antarctic Peninsula, a voyage that takes people through some of the roughest seas in the world. Scientists headed for the main U.S. research outpost at McMurdo Station usually fly there. They use special planes that have skis instead of wheels to land on skiways made of ice.

PLANES, BOATS AND TRACTORS. Planes that fly to Antarctica have skis instead of wheels. They land on iceways rather than runways. Visitors flying to the frozen continent see a bleak, icy landscape. Boats must sail through dangerous ice packs and rough waters. Tractors and helicopters are the most common form of transportation once a visitor arrives.

PETER MILLER

2001 SESAME WORKSHOP Reprinted with permission from SESAME WORKSHOP

GETTING AROUND ETTING ROUND ANTARCTIC A NTARCTIC A1ILLUSTRATION JEFF SPACEK

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ntarctica is very hard to get to because it is so far away from where most people live. Early explorers also had trouble getting there because of sea ice. Thats the ice that forms and floats on the ocean and surrounds Antarctica for many miles. In winter, this ice, which can be up to 10 feet thick, forms a barrier 30 to 900 miles wide around the land. Because of sea ice, Antarctica doubles in size each winter. In summer, much of the ice strip gets thinner and starts to break up. The loose pieces of sea ice are a danger to most boats. Only very expensive boats with icestrengthened hulls are safe. So today many of the people working in Antarctica get there by airplane. The 2,500 or so Americans who work in Antarcticaor on the iceget around in many ways. They use helicopters; track vehicles called Sprytes, ships, boats, airplanes, and even snowmobiles!

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Just a few years ago, anyone who wintered in Antarctica was cut off from the outside world for months at a time. But life there isnt as hard today. Giant cargo planes sometimes drop fresh food and supplies by parachute. (Planes almost never land in Antarctica in the winter because of the darkness and cold weather.) Communication with the rest of the world is also much better now because of satellites and other modern technology. Using electronic mail on the Internet, you can make a roundtrip to Antarctica in seconds. Being able to communicate with friends back home this way makes the world seem a little smaller and life on the chilliest continent a little bit easier.

BELOW: Food and supplies are sometimes delivered by airplane or helicopter.

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1. An Icebreaker plows through sea ice. 2. In summer, the sea ice breaks up. 3. Snowmobiles are better here than station wagons! 4. The tracks on the Spryte grip the ice.

PHOTOS NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, OFFICE OF POLAR PROGRAMS

2001 SESAME WORKSHOP Reprinted with permission from SESAME WORKSHOP

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ALKING ROUND HE WALKING AROUND THE ORLD WORLD

Most maps have North at the top and South at the bottom (above). But from the South Pole, every direction is North! Walk around the South Pole (right) and you walk around the world!

W

alking around the world in which you live would be almost impossible. You would have to cross oceans, and it would take a very long time. In Antarctica, you can walk all the way around the world without crossing any oceans, and if you walk around close to the South Pole, it is fast. Just walk around the Pole, and you have walked around the world!

ILLUSTRATIONS PETER SPACEK

TIME ZONESWalking around the world is also walking around the clock. There are many time zones set up around the world, and, at the same moment, the time in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo is different. But all of these time zones come together at the South Pole. When you move around Antarctica, you often rapidly move from one time zone to another. You would have to keep resetting your watch if you wanted to know what time it is. And you cant tell time by the sun, because Antarctica has as much as 24 hours of sunlight in summer and 24 hours of darkness in winter. So, in

order to keep on the same schedule, some people in Antarctica, especially aviators, use a special time, called Zulu time, all over the continent. Zulu time is the time found in the time zone that runs through Greenwich, England. So, when it is 12:00 noon in England, it can be noon everywhere on the large continent of Antarctica. Directions are also a little strange in Antarctica. When you are at the South Pole, every direction is North. How can that be? If you look at a compass or a map you normally place North (N) away from you and then South (S) is toward you, East (E) is to your right and West (W) is to your left. Now, go back to your imaginary trip to the South Pole and look at the map carefully. Every direction is North. What an interesting place to be!

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2001 SESAME WORKSHOP Reprinted with permission from SESAME WORKSHOP

FROZEN DESERT Antarctica is 5,400,000 square miles in areaas big as the U.S. and Mexico combined. Thats a lot of land at the bottom of the world. But 98 percent of it is covered by a thick layer of ice and snow. The other 2 percent of Antarctica is free of ice and snow. Dry valleys make up much of that landand they are very dry. Rain or snow there is less than in most deserts. The climate in the dry valleys is more like the climate on Mars than any other place on Earth! But even the areas that are covered with ice and snow are still desert. The huge interior of Antarctica is drier than the Sahara desert in Africa. Thats because it gets only a few inches of snow each year. So where does all the ice come DOUG ALLAN/EARTH SCENES

from? Any snow that does fall rarely melts. New snow piles on older snow and packs the snow below ituntil it becomes ice. This process has been going on for millions of years. In millions of years, a lot of ice builds up. Scientists say the thickest part of the ice is 15,000 feet deep. Thatsthree miles thick! And in most places

ABOVE: Glaciers are rivers of ice. Icebergs are the huge chunks that break off where these rivers flow into the ocean.

the ice is around 7,000 feet deep, more than a mile thick. The ice may be deep and heavy, but it doesnt stay still. It actually moves. The ice flows from the center of the continent to its edges. Along the way

NTARCTIC ARCTICA THE ICE COVERING ANTARCTICA: A THICK BL ANKETCONTINUED ON FOLLOWING PAGE

ILLUSTRATION PETER SPACEK

2001 SESAME WORKSHOP Reprinted with permission from SESAME WORKSHOP

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LEFT: Scientists sometimes spend three months camping in the dry valleys, collecting rocks and studying their history. BELOW: Icebergs float on sea water, but most of the iceberg is hidden beneath the surface.