Know how the largest desert in the world is unique from the other deserts.
Our planet is full of fascinating landforms. Be it plateaus, mountains, plains, hills or deserts, there is always a massive space of wonder. Talking of deserts in particular, our planet has the driest desert, wettest desert, hottest desert and windiest deserts too! But the word ‘desert’ creates a lot of puzzling scenarios.
Usually, when we hear the term “desert”, we think of a dry land with golden sand where hardly any life exists. We think of those deserts portrayed in the world of movies, stories and tales, where temperature is extremely high and resultantly, there is no water body found to be around it. We imagine someone very thirsty with camels around. Or we imagine cactus plants at a few places. Or a grand sun in the background with light that can blind one’s eyes.
But deserts are more than that. They are definitely a piece of land where rarely any life exists but there are deserts completely opposite to that. They are cold, snowy and windy deserts too! One of the largest deserts in the world is cold and
windy with immensely whiter outlooks. It is unlike the other deserts where you see bright and yellowish sand. And surprisingly, it consists of pretty good wildlife!
Although the climate here hardly allows common species of wildlife to exist here, there are still few animals present here. They can be divided into three categories:
1. Land animals
2. Sea animals
3. Aerial animals
The land animals here are mostly smaller animals and insects like earthworms, arthropods, beetles, spiders, flies etc. Whereas the sea animals include whales, seals, squids, krills, penguins etc. They are all found in huge numbers here.
You will also find certain kinds of birds like the snow petrel which is purely white and blissful. Then there are different types of albatrosses like the royal albatross, black browed albatross, wandering albatross, light mantled albatross etc. There are gulls, ducks, geese, shags and terns too.
Talking of flora, you will not find any trees or shrubs here. You will see more of white than green here. The soil here is mostly infertile. Resultantly, there is only 1 percent of vegetation existing here.
You will find plants, mosses, lichens, liverworts and fungi at quite a good number here, especially bryophytes.
But, which desert is this?
One of the famous cold places and counted as a continent, it is the Antarctic desert which is the largest desert in the world. People also quote it as the world’s largest coldest desert. It is 13.8 million sq. kilometers in length which is massively
huge. Many people believe that the Sahara desert is the largest desert but Antartica is double the size of the Sahara desert.
Another interesting fact that makes it different from other cold places is that it is not like other biggest deserts in the world. Unlike places where it is hot during the day time and cold during the night time, it is intensely freezing most of the time here. It consists of 90 percent of the whole ice present on the planet!
Antarctica’s climate is the coldest on the planet. Being the coldest desert in the world, the lowest temperature recorded here has been -89.6 degree celsius. It stays highly windy and snowy throughout the year. Over the years, it has witnessed several windstorms. Earlier, the melting of snow was rare and Antarctica also seemed to be highly dry.
The snow that falls here today melts at a faster rate due to climate change. Since global warming, there has been a change in the temperature and the melting of the snow. This is affecting the lives of animals residing as well as the whole of the environment. It will also affect human lives across the world in the near future heavily. This fact makes Antarctica dangerous for today’s world.
How would you react if I tell you there is a place having sunlight 24 hours at a time and darkness 24 hours the other time?
The Antarctic desert lies at the south pole of the planet which makes it comparatively less reachable for sunlight. This brings us to the most wonderful fact of the place which is, it witnesses sunlight for half of the time in a year and darkness in the other half! Therefore, time becomes a confusing concept here.
How would it feel if the blue sky of today turns into a magical space of different colors like pink, green and red!?
Let me quote: it actually happens here. The most amazing of all the phenomenons occurring in Antarctica is the presence of southern lights, also called the aurora australis. It is basically different colors of natural lighting in the sky which looks totally magical and beautiful. People from all across the world visit this place to have a glimpse of the polar lights.
Surprisingly, Antarctica also has two points of active volcanoes. One is called Mount Erebus and the other one is on the Deception Island. Mount Erebus steams out the gas on regular intervals of time while the deception island is full of ashes. The mountains present on Deception Island are greyish due to the ashes that has been there since ages. It is a wonder in itself.
Due to a fantastic combination of flora, fauna and landscapes, tourism is a big thing in Antarctica. Many explorers and tourists visit this place every year making the tourism industry greatly flourishing.
The bottom line:
Of all the biggest deserts in the world, Antarctica is the largest. It is a unique desert with uncommon surroundings and wildlife. It is a less visited place but the explorers who visit, love this place immediately even though the climate is really cold.
It never stays away from astonishing everyone with its wonderfulness. Be it the type of spots here or animals or vegetation, Antarctica is a heavenly place. Although the time is tricky here, people often love to have a glimpse of how it feels. And with the southern lights, it turns out to be the most magical place of all.