Antarctica is a continent of extremes: on average it is the highest, windiest, coldest and driest land mass on Earth. It also has the largest ice-mass, with less than 1% of its surface offering ice-free space for biology. Biology in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is also extreme in its isolation, light climate, water temperature and viscosity, continental shelf depth and, in the shallows, intense disturbance from scouring by icebergs. Being isolated and difficult of access, there are large areas which have never been sampled or even visited, and much of the biology is very poorly known away from the proximity of research stations. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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