Antarctic Peninsula

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Antarctic Peninsula,

glaciated mountain region of W AntarcticaAntarctica
, the fifth largest continent, c.5,500,000 sq mi (14,245,000 sq km), asymmetrically centered on the South Pole and almost entirely within the Antarctic Circle. Geology and Geography

Antarctica consists of two major regions: W Antarctica (c.
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, extending c.1,200 mi (1,930 km) N toward South America. In the south, volcanic peaks rise to c.11,000 ft (3,350 m); other volcanic cones are hidden beneath the ice. Most of its NE coast is fringed by the Larsen ice shelf. The peninsula is surrounded by numerous islands, including the South Shetlands and the Palmer Archipelago. The tip of the peninsula, 670 mi (1,078 km) from Cape Horn, is Antarctica's farthest point from the South Pole. The continent's only flowering plants are found on the peninsula.

The northwest coast of the peninsula is believed to have been mapped by the British navigator Edward BransfieldBransfield, Edward,
1795–1852, English sea captain and antarctic explorer. In 1820, Bransfield sailed from Chile to the South Shetland Islands off the N Antarctic Peninsula.
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 in Jan., 1820, and was explored by sealers in 1820–21. First considered to be part of the continent, the peninsula was later (1928) thought to be a group of islands; the John Rymill expedition (1934–37) proved its peninsularity. It was originally named Palmer Peninsula by Americans for Nathaniel PalmerPalmer, Nathaniel Brown,
1799–1877, American sea captain and antarctic explorer, b. Stonington, Conn. While on a whaling voyage (1820–21) in the South Shetlands, he commanded the Hero
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, a U.S. captain who explored the area in Nov., 1820. In 1832, Britain claimed it and called it Graham LandGraham Land,
part of the Antarctic Peninsula, W Antarctica. This ice-covered, mountainous area was thought to be a group of islands but further exploration (1934) showed it to be peninsular. Claimed by Britain in 1832, it was also claimed by Argentina and Chile.
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 and Trinity Peninsula. Argentina claimed it in 1940 as San Martin Land and Chile in 1942 as O'Higgins Land. In 1964, by international agreement, the entire feature was called the Antarctic Peninsula; Graham Land, Trinity Peninsula, and Palmer LandPalmer Land,
part of the Antarctic Peninsula, W Antarctica. Named by Americans after Nathaniel Palmer, who explored the area in 1820, Palmer Land (or Palmer Peninsula) referred to the entire Antarctic Peninsula.
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 are used as local names. The peninsula is now the site of numerous research stations.

The disintegration of a Rhode Island–sized expanse of one section of the Larsen ice shelf over a few weeks time in 2002, although directly due to locally warmer temperatures, was also regarded by some scientists as a result of the more general global warmingglobal warming,
the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. Global warming and its effects, such as more intense summer and winter storms, are also referred to as climate
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. It was the largest of several ice shelf retreats on the peninsula that have occurred since the 1960s. The Larsen ice shelf has since been much further reduced, most dramatically in 2017 when a Delaware-sized iceberg separated from another section of the ice shelf.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Antarctic Peninsula

the largest peninsula of Antarctica, between the Weddell Sea and the Pacific: consists of Graham Land in the north and the Palmer Peninsula in the south
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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