The McMurdo Dry Valleys- Driest place on Earth

Introduction of the Valleys

The McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica considered as the driest place on Earth. It is surprising to hear that Antarctica has this kind of formation which is covered by white glacier ranges with non-visible edges. McMurdo Dry Valleys are hidden by mountains of Antarctica’s Victoria Land, McMurdo, Olympus, and Asgard. This valley includes the Victoria, Wright, and Taylor valleys (A valley is a lowland formation located between the mountains).

The McMurdo Dry Valleys Range covers approximately 4,800 square kilometres. It is about 0.03% of Antarctica’s total land area and is the largest ice-free zone in the Antarctic. These valleys receive about 10 centimetres of precipitation annually in the form of snow. This region is entirely free of vegetation, and it considered an extremely harsh climate region as well as one of the coldest deserts on Earth.

The reason for this extremely harsh climate condition in Antarctica is the geographical location of these valleys. Giant and tallest mountains cover surrounding of these valleys. Therefore shadow areas of this mountains lie on this valleys. So these regions not nourished by the glaciers. Actually happening phenomena is that, nearby Glaciers that are on the top of the mountains are flowing against the McMurdo Dry Valleys. That is the reason for most famous Antarctica’s McMurdo valleys not containing ice. The entire valley is at an average temperature of about -40 0C all day.

Strong Wind in McMurdo Dry Valleys

The McMurdo Valley exposes to most powerful winds known as the Katabatic Wind for throughout the year. These strong wind currents are flowing over the area with more than 320 kmh-1. Due to the gravitational force of the Earth, wind currents flow from top of the mountains to the low-lying land. These strong winds rapidly wipe out the all moisture of objects and air in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, giving it the impetus to enter the valley as the driest place on Earth. The strong wind currents do not allow to survive any single factor which is able to cause rain in the valley. According to the universe today website, these valleys have not received a rain over more than two million years.

Life in driest place on earth

However, despite absolutely no water, no precipitation and drying place on Earth, there are some lives here. Among them some lichens, Moss, Micro bacterial communities (including cyanobacteria), Micro Nematodes. It is unbelievable how these lives adapt and live in this extremely harsh environment.

Scientists know the McMurdo Dry Valleys as the place encounter on Earth to the closet natural environment of the surface of Mars. In 2004 some part of the valleys has declared as environmentally protected area.