East Antarctica

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Map of Antarctica with East Antarctica

East Antarctica , engl. East Antarctica or Greater Antarctica , is the part of the southern continent of Antarctica east of the Weddell Sea and west of the Ross Sea . This roughly corresponds to that part of Antarctica that is in the eastern hemisphere (east of the prime meridian and west of the 180th east longitude ).


East Antarctica covers by far the largest part of the mainland in Antarctica with over 8 million km² . It is larger than Australia , making it truly continental in proportions, while the other part of Antarctica, West Antarctica , is more of a subcontinent or a huge peninsula .

The area is surrounded by the Southern Ocean to the north . The East Antarctic mainland extends, starting from the South Pole , for the most part to about the southern Arctic Circle ; only the coast at Queen Maud Land lies to the south, namely roughly at the 70th south latitude . In the direction of West Antarctica, East Antarctica is bounded by the coasts of the Weddell Sea and Ross Sea and by ice shelves adjoining both seas to the south . These seas, which cut deeply into the continent, form an isthmus between the area of ​​Central Antarctica (part of East Antarctica) and Marie Byrd Land (part of West Antarctica) . This represents the demarcation of East Antarctica on the mainland. The geographic South Pole is also in the eastern part of Antarctica.


Overall, East Antarctica has an even more hostile climate than the western part of the continent. The temperatures are even lower here and ice-free areas, such as those found here. B. on the coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula , practically do not exist here. In 2013, the Landsat 8 satellite measured temperatures of minus 93 degrees Celsius and below along a mountain ridge between the two plateaus Dome A and Dome F , making it the coldest place in the world. The pole of inaccessibility , the point of the continent furthest from the coast, high on the ice sheet, is also located in East Antarctica. Another significant difference to West Antarctica is that the Antarctic ice sheet rests mainly on the mainland, which rises above sea ​​level .

Effects of global warming

In contrast to the scientifically undisputed loss of ice in West Antarctica, East Antarctica does not yet give a clear picture. While a current study from January 2019 postulates an accelerated melting also for the East Antarctic regions, a publication by the European Geosciences Union comes to the result that the East Antarctic ice sheet is currently still relatively stable and does not show any significant loss of mass.

An international team of experts, consisting of around 80 Earth system and geoscientists, published the most extensive study to date on this topic in June 2018. According to this, the ice sheet in East Antarctica is actually growing, in contrast to the overall trend, as a long-term measurement from 1992 to 2017 showed (growth of 5 billion t per year). This effect, which seems to be directed against general global warming , is explained by the fact that the increased evaporation over the oceans leads to increased snowfall in East Antarctica. The mass loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet, at 7 billion t per year, clearly outweighs the mass gain in East Antarctica.

Important large landscapes

There are some important major regions in East Antarctica:

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Büker: Minus 93 ° - The lowest temperature on earth , Hermann von Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, December 19, 2014
  2. Ted Scambos, Allen Pope, Garrett Campbell, Terry Haran, Matt Lazzara: The Coldest Place on Earth: -90 ° C and below from Landsat 8 and other satellite thermal sensors. (pdf) Retrieved June 26, 2018 (English).
  3. TA Scambos, GG Campbell, A. Pope, T. Haran, A. Muto, M. Lazzara, CH Reijmer, MR van den Broeke: Ultra-low surface temperatures in East Antarctica from satellite thermal infrared mapping: the coldest places on Earth . In: Geophysical Research Letters . tape 45 , June 25, 2018, doi : 10.1029 / 2018GL078133 ( nsidc.org [PDF]).
  4. Eric Rignot, Jérémie Mouginot, Bernd Scheuchl, Michiel van den Broeke, Melchior J. van Wessem, Mathieu Morlighem: Four decades of Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance from 1979-2017 . In: PNAS . 116, No. 2, January 2019, pp. 1095–1103. doi : 10.1073 / pnas.1812883116 .
  5. Alex S. Gardner, Geir Moholdt, Ted Scambos, Mark Fahnstock, Stefan Luchtenberg, Michiel van den Broeke, Johan Nilsson: Increased West Antarctic and unchanged East Antarctic ice discharge over the last 7 years . In: The Cryosphere (European Geosciences Union) . 12, No. 2, February 2018, pp. 521-547. doi : 10.5194 / tc-12-521-2018 .
  6. Andrew Shepherd et al. (The IMBIE team): Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017 . (PDF) In: Nature . 556, June 2018, pp. 219–222. doi : 10.1038 / s41586-018-0179-y .


  • Norbert W. Roland: Antarctica - research in the eternal ice. Spectrum, Heidelberg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8274-1875-3 .

Coordinates: 80 °  S , 80 °  E