50 votes
Accepted

Is there sand in Antarctica?

Yes. In fact, there are sand-dunes in Antarctica [1:15].
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38 votes
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I just read news that Antarctica had set a new record high temperature, above 18 °C. How can this be the case if it is currently winter there?

You just read the news too fast. WMO announced that, after evaluation by a committee, they have validated the 18.3°C temperature recorded in February (i.e., in summer) last year: GENEVA, 1 July 2021 (...
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16 votes
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How and when people first realized that Antarctica is a continent?

The idea of a southern continent is older than the actual discovery of the Antarctica. There was an expectation of the possible existence of a Terra Australis balance the global landmasses and the ...
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  • 5,896
14 votes

Is there sand in Antarctica?

This LiveScience article suggests the areas aren't major: The scant areas that are free of snow and ice make up less than 0.4 percent of the continental land mass. In places there, the wind has built ...
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14 votes
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How could this pyramidal Mountain have been formed?

Such forms tend to be created by glacial activity, which, ahem, the ice-covered continent is known for. Much discussion of this in the related question in Skeptics: Are there three pyramids in ...
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  • 2,803
14 votes
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Glaciology: odd pattern of smooth and ribbed chunks of ice in Antartica

What you see are ice bergs frozen into a sheet of sea ice. The "chunks" are the ice bergs. Ice shelves are fed by two sources, ice from the interior of the ice sheet and ice formed by compaction of ...
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13 votes
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Where does the biggest land-based ice cap reside?

Antarctica is the ice sheet (cap) that will contribute most IF it would melt completely. The 2013 IPCC report (Ch. 4, the Cryosphere) provides an estimate of 58.3 m of sea level equivalent (sle). ...
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12 votes
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How does Antarctica stay frozen?

It doesn't stay frozen. Ice evaporates (or sublimates is the correct term) under direct sunlight, but that's at a molecular level, it doesn't melt, it goes from solid to gas under sunlight and in the ...
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  • 5,667
9 votes
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Considering how old the Antarctic ice cover is, why isn't it much thicker?

Ice floats with gravity towards lower elevation, the flow continues until the base of the ice sheet becomes floating and the ice forms an ice shelf or icebergs. Due to the subglacial topography, ...
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  • 5,896
9 votes
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Have russian drilling operations in lake Vostok succeeded yet?

The Russians did "succeed" to reach the water at borehole 5G-2 in 2012. However, the lake water flooded into the borehole due to overpressure, and refroze. They drilled again during the next campaign ...
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9 votes

Are Ice Ages Affected by the Freezing Out of CO2 in Antarctica?

The freezing point of carbon dioxide is -78.5C. The temperature at which carbon dioxide sublimates is not a fixed value. It instead is a function of the partial pressure of carbon dioxide. That value ...
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8 votes

How and when people first realized that Antarctica is a continent?

Probably the first recorded observation (and certainly one of the first) of the Antarctic mainland was of the Trinity Peninsula, part of the Antarctic Peninsula, by Edward Bransfield in 1820. Even ...
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  • 5,380
7 votes

How does Antarctica stay frozen?

First of all, the Earth does not receive heat from the Sun, it receives visible light that is absorbed by the surface of the Earth and then heat is re-radiated back into the atmosphere. If the ...
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  • 12.7k
6 votes

How does Antarctica stay frozen?

userLTK has explained that not all of the ice in the Antarctic stays frozen all the time. But perhaps there's a more basic view needed : sunlight in temperate areas melts all of the ice quite quickly, ...
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6 votes
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How deep is the permafrost in the Antarctic?

According to "Permafrost, active-layer dynamics and periglacial environments of continental Antarctica" South African Journal of Science 98. pages 82-90: Only 25% of Antarctica has permafrost, as the ...
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  • 5,892
6 votes

How do glaciers move? Could Antarctica be separated?

Glaciers move by two processes: Internal deformation Basal sliding This figure (made for my candidacy exam), exemplify both processes as if we were following a single block of ice within a glacier: ...
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6 votes

How do glaciers move? Could Antarctica be separated?

Glaciology is a large field of research, and I cannot include all aspects in a short answer. I'll try to give some concepts that can help you in your understanding of the cryosphere. Glaciers are, ...
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  • 5,896
6 votes
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What is more important in Antarctica calving or basal melting of the ice shelves?

There are two studies published in 2013 that provide the most recent updates on this balance Depoorter, M.A. and 6 others, 2013. Calving fluxes and basal melt rates of Antarctic ice shelves. Nature, ...
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6 votes

How could this pyramidal Mountain have been formed?

That mountain is mount Evans (3,950 m), located in the Sentinel Range in inner Antarctica (S 78.30698°, W 85.91698°), the highest mountain range in the continent. (Map courtesy of @KeithMcClary see ...
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6 votes
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Giant Cavern the Size of Manhattan Under Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica

The cave is created by warm water, so the ice has been replaced by the water. It is common to find areas under the front of glaciers that have been melted away by warm water. Warm water here means ...
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  • 1,820
6 votes

Why is McMurdo Station in Antartica more hostile than Longyearbyen (Norway), while Longyearbyen is closer to the pole?

The lack of oceanic and atmospheric currents going into and around Antarctica from equatorial latitudes means that much less heat is transported from the tropical latitudes to Antarctica compared to ...
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5 votes
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Why is McMurdo Station in Antartica more hostile than Longyearbyen (Norway), while Longyearbyen is closer to the pole?

As to the questions of the flights: McMurdo is about 3.500 km from the next airport (Dunedin in southern New Zealand), while Longyearbyen is only 950 km from Tromsø. It simply is due to the distance ...
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  • 766
5 votes
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What are these radial line patterns shown in representations of antarctica?

I can't be sure, but I strongly suspect that the radial lines in the first two images are the result of a bug in the software used to draw the map, probably resulting from vector polygons that are ...
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5 votes

I just read news that Antarctica had set a new record high temperature, above 18 °C. How can this be the case if it is currently winter there?

Supplemental to Jean-Marie Prival's answer: The February 2020 event was already discussed here in a question posted the same day this went public: What is the second thermometer in the image from the ...
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  • 7,156
4 votes
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Is it coincidence that Antarctica is centered on the south pole?

It's an interesting thought. Antarctica is not so balanced as it might appear on the maps. East Antarctica is old, consisting probably of cratons and Proterozoic orogenic domains whiles West ...
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  • 5,896
4 votes
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Giant Cavern the Size of Manhattan Under Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica - how was satellite and airborne radar data combined?

The paper basically combines multiple datasets to figure out the changes in ice surface elevation and ice thickness at tidal and multi-year timescales. That way they were able to study grounding line ...
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4 votes

Considering how old the Antarctic ice cover is, why isn't it much thicker?

An interesting point to consider comes from your assumption of a constant rate of precipitation. Many earth system processes have non-trivial stochastic variations (or high-dimensional chaos). ...
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