You probably didn’t even know that the Antarctica was a continent, Did You? As surprising as it may sound, it is true that Antarctica is a indeed a desert. and the largest desert in its kind. Now one might ask, With all of that ice and water, how could Antarctica be a desert? Well, you would rescind your question if you actually knew what a desert really is.
Almost all of us understand a desert to be sandy. when the name desert comes in mind we think of sand dunes and sizzling temperatures and a deserted place( where no one lives), but technically a desert doesn’t have to be hot or sandy, it’s more about how much precipitation the area receives as rain, snow, mist or fog.
What Makes A Desert?
To be considered a desert, an area must receive less than than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation every year. While precipitation can take the form of rain, snow, mist or fog, there is never enough. On average, the South Pole gets just over 10 cm (0.4 inches) of rainfall over the past years. Even the amount of evaporation in a desert usually exceeds the annual rainfall. In all deserts, there is always too little water available for plants and other organisms to survive.
So even though the Antarctica is full of ice and water and snow , the low rainfall feature makes it an actual desert. Maybe you could call it a white desert if you like to play with words. Others might also say there is livestock so if the place supports life then why is it a desert.
Well, will it shock you again if i told you some people also live on the sandy deserts you know. Antarctica is too cold for people to even live there for a long time. Scientists take turns going there to study the ice. and the tourists visit Antarctica in the summers. The definition of a desert doesn’t really focus on the support for life or habitat. It simply categorizes it as a place where very little precipitation occurs.
How Is Antarctica Really Like?
Well, you probably know this already. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. The temperature in the winter is cold enough, freezing the water all year round. The temperature in the middle of Antarctica is much colder than the temperature on the coasts.
There are two seasons in the icy continent Antarctica: summer and winter. Earth is tilted in space and the direction of tilt never changes. During summer, Antarctica is on the side of Earth and tilts toward the sun. It is always sunny. In winter, Antarctica is on the side of Earth and tilts away from the sun. Then, the continent is always dark. Another shocking fact right? In simple terms, Antarctica is sunny and bright as the sunshine during the summer and it’s dark during the winter.
It does not rain or snow a lot there. When it snows, the snow never melt due to the cold temperature. And this builds up over many years to make large, thick sheets of ice, called ice sheets. Antarctica is made up of lots of ice in the form of glaciers, ice shelves and icebergs.
Finally and definitely, Antarctica has no trees or bushes. Only a few plant life e.g moss and algae can live in a place like that. You can find only a few natural inhabitants like the seal and some species of penguins on the Antarctica.