Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Have you ever heard about the coldest desert in the world? Don't get me wrong. The largest desert in the world is also the coldest desert in the world. Interesting; right?
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 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 the 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!
Wildlife at the coldest desert in the world:
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 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 Antarctica 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 the other biggest deserts in the world. Unlike places where it is hot during the daytime and cold during the nighttime, 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 degrees 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.