Antarctica: The Coldest, Driest Continent on Earth

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IcebergPhoto: Mila Zinkova

Do you know where the largest desert on Planet Earth is? You might answer the‘Sahara Desert’. But you are WRONG! The answer is actually the “ANTARCTIC DESERT”. But why is that? Antarctica is the fifth largest of the seven continents, with a total surface area of about 14.2 million sq km (in summer). What makes it a desert, then? According to the geological definition: “A desert is an area that receives little precipitation, with 10 inches or 25cm of rain or less a year, lots of hot sand and [contains] very few or no plants.” Here comes the surprise! As per this definition, Antarctic can be classified as the largest desert in the world. So even though there’s ice on the ground in Antarctica, that ice has been there for a very long time. Isn’t it amazing?

AntarcticaPhoto: Dave Pape

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Ross Ice Shelf, AntarcticPhoto: Mila Zinkova

Fascinating Facts about Antarctic:

#1 The largest existing iceberg broke free from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, around March 20, 2000. It was about the size of Connecticut or twice the size of Delaware, about 4,250 square miles (11,000 square kilometers). This ice berg measures 183 miles long (295 kilometers) and about 25 miles wide (37 kilometers). It extends about 900 feet below the surface and rises about 120 feet (30 meters) above the ocean. WOW!

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