Sea ice is seen out the window of NASA’s DC-8 research aircraft on Oct. 21, 2009, as it flies 2,000 feet above the Bellingshausen Sea in West Antarctica. This was the fourth science flight of NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge airborne Earth science mission to study Antarctic ice sheets, sea ice and ice shelves. Credit: NASA/Jane Peterson
Antarctica contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere. Therefore almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14,000,000 square kilometres (5,400,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent. Also For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km (1.2 mi; 6,200 ft) in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.