The Antarctic continent is the coldest region on Earth. Most of this land is buried underneath masses of ice and snow that can grow to be one mile thick. Mountains peek out of the top of Antarctica's thick glaciers. There are many kinds of animals that live in the water and on the land that surrounds Antartica. Two 6 month long winter weather seasons along with severe winds make the Antarctic polar region more than just a cold place. Only part of Antarctica has been explored and scientists are hoping to be able to study more of this frigid environment in the next few years.
The Antarctic continent is 14,000,000 square kilometers in size, and it is the fifth largest continent. The only continents that are smaller than Antarctica is Australia and Europe. Ice covers almost 14,000,000 square kilometers of Antarctic's land.
The highest Antarctic mountain peak is Vinson Massif, 4897 meters tall..
The geography of Antarctica is dominated by its south polar location and, thus, by ice. The Antarctic continent, located in the Earth's southern hemisphere, is centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle. It is surrounded by the southern waters of the World Ocean – alternatively (depending on source), it is washed by the Southern (or Antarctic) Ocean or the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. With an area of more than 14 million km?, it is the fifth-largest continent and about 1.3 times larger than Europe.
Some 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet, the world's largest ice sheet and also its largest reservoir of fresh water. Averaging at least 1.6 km thick, the ice is so massive that it has depressed the continental bedrock in some areas more than 2.5 km below sea level; subglacial lakes of liquid water also occur (e.g., Lake Vostok). Ice shelves and rises populate the ice sheet on the periphery. Only about 2% of the continent is uncovered by ice.
Physically, Antarctica is divided in two by mountains close to the neck between the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. Western Antarctica and Eastern Antarctica correspond roughly to the eastern and western hemispheres relative to the Greenwich meridian. This usage has been regarded as Eurocentric by some, and the alternative terms Lesser Antarctica and Greater Antarctica (respectively) are sometimes preferred.
Western Antarctica is covered by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. There has been some concern about this ice sheet, because there is a small chance that it will collapse. If it does, ocean levels would rise by a few metres in a very short period of time.