Paradise Harbour, Antarctica
© SinghaphanAllB/Getty Image
The other continent Down Under. Antarctica Day
The most isolated continent in the world, hands down, is the polar desert that is Antarctica, the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. Inhospitable as it sounds, Antarctica is also a place of stunning beauty, as evidenced by this image of Paradise Harbour near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The continent is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, worth remembering today on Antarctica Day, which marks the anniversary of the signing of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty. The international agreement protects Antarctica as a scientific preserve.
The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of Antarctica and the closest to South America, making it relatively accessible. Paradise Harbour is one of the most-visited places on the continent, and a regular stop for civilian cruises. The area is home to a colony of penguins and is an excellent place to see glacial calving – where massive ice chunks break away from the edge of the glacier.
While the loss of glacial ice is normal, the process has accelerated at an alarming rate due to global warming. The mile-thick ice sheet that covers Antarctica accounts for 70 per cent of the planet’s supply of fresh water. To put that in perspective, if it all melted, sea levels would rise by 200ft (60m). Without this land of ice, the world would look very different.