On December 14, 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole. Amundsen and his team arrived at the pole five weeks ahead of their rival, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. (Perhaps more importantly, Amundsen and his team returned from their journey, while Scott’s expedition perished.)
The South Pole was one of the last terrestrial locations explored on Earth, and Antarctica remains a difficult place to visit today. Temperatures can drop as low as -80 degrees Celsius (-112 °Fahrenheit) in the winter. Ice covers 98% of the continent, and is more than a kilometer deep.
Once explorers like Amundsen conquered the South Pole, scientists moved in. The unique isolation of Antarctica makes it important for studying Earth at its extremes. About 5,000 researchers work in Antarctica, studying climate, glaciers, biodiversity, astronomy, and even paleontology in the most extreme part of the planet.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry astronomy Noun
the study of space beyond Earth's atmosphere.
all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.
Encyclopedic Entry: biodiversity climate Noun
all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.
Encyclopedic Entry: climate conquer Verb
to overcome an enemy or obstacle.
one of the seven main land masses on Earth.
Encyclopedic Entry: continent expedition Noun
journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.
mass of ice that moves slowly over land.
Encyclopedic Entry: glacier ice Noun
water in its solid form.
Encyclopedic Entry: ice isolation Noun
state of being alone or separated from a community.
voyage or trip.
the study of fossils and life from early geologic periods.
Encyclopedic Entry: paleontology perish Verb
to die or be destroyed.
large, spherical celestial body that regularly rotates around a star.
Encyclopedic Entry: planet South Pole Noun
fixed point that, along with the North Pole, forms the axis on which the Earth spins.
Encyclopedic Entry: South Pole temperature Noun
degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.
Encyclopedic Entry: temperature terrestrial Adjective
having to do with the Earth or dry land.
one of a kind.