Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent, underlying the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km2, it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness.
Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of 8 inches along the coast and far less inland. There are no permanent human residents but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, seals, nematodes, Tardigrades, mites, many types of algae and other microorganisms.
The coastline measures 17,968 km and is mostly characterized by ice formations.
Antarctica is divided in two by Mountains close to the neck between the Ross Sea and the Weddell Sea. The portion west of the Weddell Sea and east of the Ross Sea is called West Antarctica and the remainder East Antarctica, because they roughly correspond to the Western and Eastern Hemispheres relative to the Greenwich meridian.
About 98% of Antarctica is covered by the Antarctic ice sheet, a sheet of ice averaging at least 1.6 km (1.0 mi) thick. The continent has about 90% of the world's ice and about 70% of the world's fresh water. Antarctica is white. it doesn't get much sunlight, but what it gets is largely reflected back into space. this means that it keeps the world cooler by limiting the amount of light that is turned into heat. Antarctica is cold. In a way, it regulates the temperature of the rest of the planet by being a sink for heat. It takes a lot of energy to heat up and melt ice. Once we've melted antarctica, the rate of global warming will increase because there isn't that chunk of ice absorbing energy. Think of it as putting a huge ice cube into a pot of water that you're trying to boil on the stove.
Finally, because Antarctica is cold, and because there is a differential between its coldness and the warmth of the tropics. For example, it helps to generate the flow of air and water in currents around the globe. Cold air sinks over the poles, and is pulled toward the temperate regions; warm air rises at the tropics and is pulled toward the poles. it's more complex than that, but fair enough to say that Antarctica helps generate the flow of currents because it is cold. Human impact is the greatest threat to Antarctica. In the last 100 years, a number of Antarctic species have been brought close to extinction because of human impact, in the form of pollution