Map of continental Antarctica showing ice thickness
Continental Antarctica showing ice thickness

Students can get a good idea of the profile of Antarctica and that it is the highest continent on earth by drawing a cross section of the continent. This will show them what it would be like if they walked across Antarctica in a straight line.

With an average elevation of 2500 metres, Antarctica is the highest continent on earth. Australia's average elevation is only 330 metres.

  • Using the contour map of Antarctica [PDF], ask students to draw a line through Davis and the South Pole. Make sure they draw it from coast to coast. Then have them draw a cross section. They will be able to see how a cross section cuts a slice out of the land, and shows the slope of that slice.
  • As an extension activity, students can then draw a cross section through an elevation and ice thickness map of Antarctica [PDF] showing ice, bedrock and the sea level.
  • You can have them do a similar exercise using a contour map of Australia, and then ask them to compare the cross sections, and the height profiles. Students could then research the average height of Antarctica and Australia, and their highest mountains (Vinson Massif - 4897 metres; Mt Kosciusko - 2228 metres).
This page was last modified on July 3, 2014.