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The Top 10 Most Extreme Places on Earth

By Becky Ferreira Apr 16, 2013

11 of 11

McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Antarctica is already such an extreme environment that Emperor Penguins are about the only species with enough courage (in the form of blubber) to face the winter, where temperatures can drop to - 129 degrees F. But Antarctica is also home to one of the world's driest deserts, second only to the Atacama Desert in Chile. Precipitation is blocked from the McMurdo Dry Valleys by high mountains, while katabatic winds scour the landscape, heating as they descend to evaporate what little moisture the region does accumulate. In fact, this area is so extreme that scientists consider it to be the place on Earth most like Mars, and thus an important area for research into potential extraterrestrial life.

Tags: slideshows, nature, life, extremes, national parks, deserts

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About the Author
Becky Ferreira

Becky Ferreira is a writer, performer, and raptor based in New York.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.