Largest Deserts of the World
Nestled around the South Pole, where the coldest temperature on Earth was recorded and which doesnt receive sunlight for months every year, its sometimes hard to think of icy Antarctica as a desert. But it is the worlds largest one because very little precipitation falls there on average, it gets less than 2 inches (50 millimeters) a year, mostly as snow.Despite the low snowfall, vast glaciers cover 99 percent of Antarcticas surface. Thats because the average temperature (minus 54 degrees Fahrenheit, or minus 48 degrees Celsius) slows down evaporation to a crawl. Over long periods of time, the snowfall accumulates at a rate faster than Antarcticas ablation, according to Discovering Antarctica, a project of the U.K.s Royal Geographical Society.
Parts of Antarctica are showing strong signs of warming up along with global climate change, however. Temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have increased by 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius) over the past 50 years five times the rate of the rest of the planet. And scientists think that warm ocean waters could be melting Antarcticas glaciers as they flow under the floating tongues of ice.