What comes to mind when you think about deserts? Most people think of hot, dry, sandy places. They think of Death Valley in California. They think of the Sahara Desert in Africa. A desert, though, is simply a place that receives less than ten inches of rainfall per year. Some deserts are in very hot places. Others have a much milder climate. Some deserts are in very cold places!
Antarctica is a place of extremes. It is the Earth's coldest continent. It is also the windiest and driest. It is almost completely covered in ice. Despite this fact, most of Antarctica is considered to be a desert.
The continent of Antarctica is larger in size than the United States. More than ninety-eight percent of the continent is covered in ice. On average, the ice is about one mile thick! The weather in Antarctica is always very cold. Temperatures only exceed the freezing point for about one month out of the year. This means that there is very little time for ice to melt. Indeed, most of it never does melt.