Largest Desert in the World
The Antarctic Desert is the coldest and driest place on Earth. It is the largest desert as well with a total size of 13.8 million square kilometers. Some might think that a it describes a hot place where there is no life but the true definition of a desert is when there is minimum to zero precipitation in a single year. And the Antarctic Desert fits all of the categories mentioned when describing one. The Antarctic Desert is one of the most desolate regions in the world. It receives less than 250mm precipitation each year with around 14 million square kilometers of land mass which is approximately twice the size of Australia. During the winter, the entire Antarctica doubles in size due to the cold freezing over the waters of the coastline.
Get to Know More of the Antarctic Desert
The Antarctica is the fifth largest continent on earth. It is situated at the southernmost part of the Earth and the nearest continent is South America. Since it is found in the southern area of the Earth, it receives less amount of sunlight during the winter and more during the summer. The Antarctica is also the highest continent with an average elevation of 1.4 miles. It was first discovered by a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen in 1820. On 1821, American sealer John Davis landed on Antarctica. But, it was explorer Roald Amundsen, a Native Norwegian and Robert Scott, an English naval officer who explored the continent. Both of which spent 99 days racing throughout the vast desert landscape.
It was on 1959 that almost 49 countries especially those that surround the Antartica signed a treaty that will leave the continent away from nuclear waste disposal, any form of scientific research, nuclear explosions, prohibit mining of minerals, and any military activities.
Why is it Called a Desert
A desert is defined as a region that has less than 254mm of precipitation each year. Meaning if there is no rain that amounts to more than 254mm then it can be called one. Antarctica falls into this category because there are no rainfalls in the continent and that if it does happen, it amounts only to 200mm. There is little evaporation from the region mainly because ice is dominant in the cold weather. Snow is little in the outer regions but it continually falls all year round.
It is one of the coldest and windiest continent having the temperature of record breaking -89.2 C on July 21, 1983 at the Russian base at the Southern Geomagnetic Pole. The Southern Geomagnetic Pole is close to the Pole Of Inaccessibility. The Pole of Inaccessibility is the last remaining area where man was able to reach. Further journey towards the area have not been organized for fear of getting lost or due to the rough weather.
But being called one does not also mean that there are no lifeforms in the said continent. There have been recent findings of microbial life on the depths of the ice and are found in the most desolate regions it. This gives scientists hope that there are more to discover within the confines of the frigid desert as well as life from other planets that have the same environment as with the continent.