West Antarctica

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West Antarctica, or Lesser Antarctica, one of the two major regions of Antarctica, is the part of the continent that lies within the Western Hemisphere including the Antarctic Peninsula.

Location and description

Lying on the Pacific Ocean side of the Transantarctic Mountains, West Antarctica comprises the Antarctic Peninsula (with Graham Land and Palmer Land) and Ellsworth Land, Marie Byrd Land and King Edward VII Land and offshore islands such as Adelaide Island, the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf on the Weddell Sea, and the Ross Ice Shelf on the Ross Sea. West Antarctica is separated from the main land mass of the continent by the icy waters of the Ross Sea and Weddell Sea, and resembles a giant peninsula that stretches roughly from the South Pole towards the southern tip of South America.

The name has existed for more than 100 years (Balch, 1902; Nordenskiƶld, 1905), but its greatest use followed the International Geophysical Year (1957-58) and explorations disclosing that the Transantarctic Mountains provide a useful regional separation of West Antarctica and East Antarctica. The name was approved by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) in 1962.

West Antarctica is mostly covered by a massive ice sheet referred to as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). This ice sheet has shown signs of decreasing mass.

Marielandia Antarctic Tundra

The parts of West Antarctica not covered with ice (Antarctic oasis), which are the coasts of the Antarctic......
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