Key Facts

  • Antarctica is the coldest, windiest place on Earth
  • Its 5.4 million square miles are the size of the United States and Mexico combined, and equal 10 percent of earth’s land surface.
  • During the austral winter, sea ice may double the size of the continent.
  • 99% of Antarctica is covered by a permanent ice sheet, which averages over a mile in thickness, and in some places is almost three miles thick.
  • 90% of the world’s ice and 70 % of the world’s fresh water are locked in this ice pack.
  • Antarctica’s surrounding Southern Ocean ecosystem is the largest and most fertile in the world,comprising 13.9 million square miles, equal to 10 percent of the world’s oceans.