This is a trick question. What is the world’s largest desert? Answer is Antarctica. Confused? Well the reason Antarctica is considered the world’s largest desert is because a desert is classified as getting only 254 mm of precipitation per year and Artica only gets 200 mm. Most people believe the Sahara is the Largest desert which is not false because there are warm and cold deserts. The Sahara is the world’s largest warm desert.
Antarctica is extremely unique in a number of ways in that the whole continent is a desert, there are no permanent residents, and it has the highest elevation of any continent. Very few species of anything can survive on Antarctica. Penguins, seals, some types of algae and tundra vegetation are the majority of living species in Antarctica.
The first sighting of Antarctica was confirmed in 1820, but there is also the story of Terra Australis that says the continent has been known of since antiquity. Terra Australis was the belief that there was a large land at the southern most part of the earth to balance Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Ptolemy was a roman mathematician, geologist, and astrologist who believed the idea of Terra Australis preserved the symmetry of all known landmasses in the world.
Ninety eight percent of Antarctica is covered by ice sheets called Antarctica ice sheets, ice pieces about 1.6 km. Also Antarctica is home to about ninety percent of the world’s ice.
Antarctica has many mountains and even has an active volcanoe. Vinson Massif is Antarctica’s highest mountain it’s peek is 4,892 m. Antarctica’s active volcanoe is on Ross Island it is called Mount Erebus. Mount Erebus is the world’s southern most active volcanoe. There was an extreme eruption in 1970 on Deception Island and lava flow has even been reported. Most recently an underwater volcanoe has been discovered and it might even be active.
As most people know Antarctica has the coldest weather. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit. East Antarctica is colder than the west because the east has a higher elevation. A funny fact is sunburn is a big concern when in Antarctica because the ice reflects all the sunlight.
Antarctica has no government or politics and is a neutral continent. Many countries have claimed land for research purposes. Claims of land in Antarctica have been suspended since 1959. The claim of land was suspended do to the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed by twelve countries including the U.S.
Global warming effects Antarctica just like every where else, but not on the scale of most places. The location of Antarctica keeps the land well isolated from outside effects. But a large hole of ozone depletion above Antarctica continues grow.