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Antarctica

As the coldest destination on Earth and its last great wilderness, Antarctica is simply stunning.

Because so little moisture falls from the sky Antarctica is classified as a desert. The inner regions of the continent receive on average 50 mm of precipitation a year, primarily in the form of snow. More rain falls in the Sahara Desert. The coastal regions receive more precipitation, but still only an average of 200 mm annually. Unlike most desert regions, however, the moisture doesn’t soak into the ground. Instead the snow piles up.

Antarctica boasts colossal blizzards. Like sandstorms in the desert the wind picks up snow from the ground and blows it across the surface in vast white blankets. Winds can reach up to 320 kilometres per hour.

Antarctica has just two seasons: summer and winter. During the summer Antarctica is on the side of the Earth which is tilted towards the sun and so is in constant sunlight. In the winter Antarctica is on the side of the Earth tilted away from the sun causing the continent to be plunged into darkness.

In the depths of winter temperatures taken at coastal stations register between -10C and -30C. Conditions on the interior plateau are much colder as a result of its higher elevation and latitude and its greater distance from the ocean. There, summer temperatures struggle to reach above -20C and in the winter fall below -60C. The lowest temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth was -89C at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica.

The scientific community has been working in this frozen continent since the late 19th century. Brazil and China are among the countries contributing towards the progress of scientific research; Brazil with one base on King George Island and China with 4 bases at different locations. In total, Antarctica is home to around 4000 people in summer and a 1000 in the winter.