Antarctica is the "White Continent"-- Of the 14 million square km of the continent's area, only 2% of the land is ice-free.|
The other 98% is covered with icecaps 2160 meters thick in average and with areas more than 4000 meters high.
Antarctica, occupying 10% of the world's surface, contains 90% of the world's ice and 70% of its fresh water, forming the largest body of fresh water or ice in the world.
The average elevation of Antarctica is about 2300 meters above sea level.
Compared with other continents in the world, this amount is extremely high.
Even Asia, having the roofs of the world, the Himalayas, is only 900 meters in average elevation.
But take away the ice and Antarctica will suddenly be the lowest continent.
Because the massive icecap pushes Antarctica's ground even to the mantle of the Earth, it's average ground elevation is 150 meters below water.
But once the ice is really removed, it is said that the ground will rise about 600 to 800 meters which will make Antarctica as high as other continents.
Glaciers that cover 50,000 square km or more is called an ice sheet.
Today, ice sheets only remain in Greenland and Antarctica.
With an estimated volume of 30 million cubic km, Antarctica's thickest parts of the icecap are located over deep basins that dip far below sea level.
Here, the icecap is up to 4,800 meters thick and at its highest points over mountain ranges, the icecap rises as high as 4,100 meters above sea level.
The icecap is formed from layers of snow pressed together over millions of years.
Air between the grains of snow was pushed out or became trapped in bubbles as the bottom layers of the icecap hardened into ice.
The weight of the icecap causes the ice to spread outward and slide toward the coasts.
Ice near the coasts moves as much as 1000 meters a year, and inland ice moves about 10 meters per year.
Glaciers in narrow valleys move even faster.
The In some areas, the icecap breaks and forms crevasses(cracks) more than 30 meters deep.