Top Ten Deserts


The driest continent on the planet is ironically the same one with 80 percent of the world's drinking water locked up in it. Antarctica, contrary to common expectation, has very low water vapor levels, sees almost no rainfall, and is sometimes called the White Desert. The world's lowest recorded temperature—-128.6 degrees F—made its mark here in 1983, although mean temperatures in the cooler months usually run from -4 degrees to -22 degrees F on the coast and from -40 degrees to -94 degrees F in the interior. If that were not bad enough, constant winds—capable of outrageous 100-mile gusts that pick up snow and redeposit it in no-new-precipitation "blizzards"—cool things down even more. Summer temperatures are usually about 60 degrees "warmer." Ongoing studies in these pitiless conditions are helping scientists understand issues about the earth's magnetosphere and the "ozone hole" discovered in 1971 but not made public until 1985.


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