(ORDO NEWS) — If we’re asked to imagine the driest place on Earth, we’re likely to imagine a remote place littered with sand and dunes and located in a hot region—like the Sahara. However, the researchers point out that everything is not as obvious as we might assume.
This was reported by IFLScience.
According to NASA, one of the driest places on our planet, indeed, is the Atacama Desert located in Chile. Some areas of this desert actually receive only 1 to 3 millimeters of rain per year. What’s more, scientists believe that the driest region of the Atacama Desert did not see significant rainfall for 401 years between 1570 and 1971.
However, there are drier places on Earth, located on the driest continent in the world — Antarctica. The fact is that cold air carries less moisture than warmer air, which makes the continent so dry in terms of rain and snowfall.
NASA researchers note that snow falls on the continent: several meters per year in coastal areas and only a few centimeters per year in the interior of the continent. This makes it the driest continent on the planet in general.
At the same time, in the driest region of Antarctica, also known as the Dry Valleys, there was no rain for about 2 million years.
The region is 4,800 square kilometers and has almost no water, partly due to the mountains that surround it, which block moisture from entering the area. The second factor that affects the aridity of the area is the waste winds, which move at speeds of up to 320 kilometers per hour, evaporating and removing moisture from the area.
Note that this area in Antarctica is often used by NASA scientists as an analogue of Mars due to the extreme conditions prevailing here. However, despite the incredibly difficult conditions, even life has seeped into this area: in the slightly wetter inner part of the rocks, scientists have discovered photosynthetic bacteria.
Contact us: [email protected]