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    16 Facts About Antarctica That Will Make You Say, "Whaaat?!"

    Mind blown.

    1. Given that a desert is defined as a region receiving less than 10 inches of precipitation per year, Antarctica is technically a desert!

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    They are not all hot dry, sandy wastelands!

    2. In fact, contrary to popular belief, the Antarctic Polar Desert is actually the world's largest desert, not the Sahara.

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    3. It stretches approximately 5.4 million square miles — talk about a vast desert!

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    4. Even though Antarctica is home to almost 90% of Earth's fresh water, as little as two to eight inches of precipitation falls there each year.

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    5. Temperatures don't often fall below freezing in hot deserts, but the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica at a bone-chilling -135.8°F.

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    6. Even on the warmest days in central Antarctica, temperatures reach an average of only -22°F. Toasty!

    BBC / Via

    7. Contrary to ~typical~ deserts, Antarctica actually experiences a period of perpetual darkness in the winter!

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    8. Oppositely, in the summer months, Antarctica experiences a period of perpetual light, receiving more direct sunlight than the Sahara desert during that time period!

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    9. Antarctica is the driest and windiest place on Earth, with winds whipping as fast as 200 mph!

    PBS / Via

    10. The Sahara can support various trees and shrubs, but Antarctica's barren lands can sustain only moss, lichen, and algae species.

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    11. Historically, the soils of Antarctica contain the least diverse organisms in the world.

    American Chemical Society / Via

    12. While a ~typical~ desert is covered in golden sand, Antarctica is covered in ice 1.5+ miles thick!

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    13. Antarctica technically has a residential population of zero, while the Sahara desert is home to approximately 2.5 million people.

    Tenedos / Getty Images, Max1893 / Getty Images

    There are teams of scientists who stay at Antarctic base camps to conduct research for parts of the year.

    14. The land of ice is home to the world's southernmost active volcano, Mount Erebus.

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    15. So before you assume all deserts look like this...

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    16. ...remember the mother of all deserts actually looks like this!

    Goinyk / Getty Images

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