Snow and ice


by Duane Ausherman

Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest, and most remote continent on earth.  The annual precipitation was very low, so it is a desert.  Snow is the way we get “wet,” and while it has rained, it is super rare.

We would get a couple of nice days and then another storm.  The snow is seldom in flakes but in granular form, about the size of sand.  Real snow rarely falls from the sky, but what we got is just more of the ice that gets blasted away from the more solid ice.  As it blows around, it is sandblasting a larger block of ice.  Think of it as bits of ice that just blows around the continent.

Rarely will the wind stop, and when that happens, it warms up, then some of the ice/snow will melt for a few hours.  Then the wind returns and everything freezes up again.

Once, I stepped out of a building and found about one inch of actual snow, you know, the real stuff from the sky.  I had been told that it contains almost no water.  I carefully stepped onto it slowly so my foot wouldn’t blow it away.  I picked up my foot and found no snow smashed down on the concrete.  I then examined the bottom of my shoe, and it too was clean.  That one inch of snow smashed into nothing.  I could have filled a bucket, melted it, and found a few drops of water as a result.

The ice is 9000 feet deep and contains 75% of the world’s freshwater.  If it thawed out, it would raise the level of the ocean some 250 feet.

Updated 30 March 2023