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Is It Always Snowing or Raining in Antarctica?

Antarctica, known as the coldest place on earth, is also the driest. Some areas of Antarctica haven't seen rain or snow in millions of years.

Although the average precipitation for the whole of the continent varies between 1.9 inches to over 7.8 inches (50 - 200 mm) per year, there are dry valleys which receive less than 0.4 inches (10.16mm) per year. The temperatures are also extremely cold in these areas. For example, -13 degrees Fahrenheit (-25 degrees Celsius) is the norm in December and January, which feels even colder due to strong winds. This means that although precipitation is low, snow never really melts and these areas may look the same for millions of years.

Survival in the dry valleys of Antarctica is nearly impossible, but it proved to be of use to scientists in 2009, who visited these parts to test scientific equipment to be used on the surface of Mars. In dryness and coldness, Antarctica is the most similar place to Mars on earth. The average temperature on Mars is about -80 degrees Fahrenheit (-60 degrees Celsius).

More about Antarctica:

  • The coldest temperature ever recorded was at Vostok station, Antarctica in 1983, measuring -128 degrees Fahrenheit (-89 degrees Celsius).

  • Antartica is also the windiest place on earth. Sometimes winds blow at 200 miles (320 kilometers) per hour.

  • Antarctica has the largest single sheet of ice on earth, and if it were to melt, sea levels around the world would increase 16 feet (5 meters) on average.

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