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McMurdo Dry Valleys, in Antarctica, is one of the world’s cruelest deserts. You may think that a desert is a hot, dry place, full of sand. Science defines a desert as a place that has less than 10 inches (254 millimetres) of rainfall per year. Antarctica has none.
Even if the snow that falls on the ice sheets melted, it would only result in about two inches (five millimetres) of water per year.
Wind blows cold air down off the ice sheets and through the valleys at speeds up to 200 miles (320 kilometres) per hour. These winds are called katabatic winds. They suck all the moisture out of the air. Snow and ice evaporates before it can ever settle on the ground. McMurdo Dry Valleys remain ice free in a continent covered by ice sheets and glaciers.
In the Dry Valleys are a number of ice covered lakes. Some are saltwater. Some are freshwater. Each is different in its composition. Glaciers border the valleys. It is here, in Taylor Valley, that one of the strangest features on Earth has been discovered – a bleeding glacier.
Find out about this strange, natural phenomenon and what causes it.
Ages 8 and up.
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