Ahead of our Conquering the Antarctic concert tour, starting next month, we’re immersing ourselves in all things Antarctic. Here are some interesting facts about the most mysterious and fascinating of continents…
- The Antarctic is the world’s highest, driest, coldest and windiest continent (as well as the last to be discovered).
- Ancient Greek geographers were the first to guess there was a large landmass around the South Pole. They named it Anti-Arkitkos (‘the opposite of the Arctic’).
- Wind speeds of up to 351km (218 miles) per hour have been recorded.
- In 1983, the coldest temperature ever was recorded at a freezing -89.2 degrees Celsius (-128.56 degrees Fahrenheit).
- The distance between the UK and Antarctica is 11,000 miles (17702.784 km).
- Ice in the middle of the continent can be up to 2500m (2 miles) thick.
- Antarctica is more than 58 times bigger than Great Britain.
- The pole moves with the ice at the rate of ten metres per year – each summer it has to be put back to its rightful geographical place.
- Antarctic ice sheets store 70% of the world’s fresh water.
- In Antarctica’s Dry Valleys, less than 6cm (2.4 in) of snow falls in a whole year.
- Although there are no trees, more than 100 million birds nest and breed on the Antarctic.
- Today, around 1,200 people spend the winter on Antarctica – about a third are scientists and the rest are support staff.
- On average, ice sheets are nearly 2.5km (1.5 miles) thick – that’s the same as ten Canary Wharf towers on top of each other.
- Thanks to high levels of oxygen in the water, sea spiders grow up to 30cm (12 in) across!
A celebration in music, words and images
Stephen Layton, conductor
Robert Murray, tenor
Hugh Bonneville, narrator
3-8 February and 3 March 2012