The McMurdo Dry Valleys region is cold, extremely arid and windy.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys region is a cold desert ecosystem - cold, extremely arid and windy. This is caused by a ‘rain shadow’ effect as air rolling down from the polar plateau to the coast is forced over the Trans Antarctic Mountains, cooling and condensing and depositing its moisture in the form of snow. In the Wright Valley the mean annual temperature is –19.8°C and annual precipitation is less than 100 mm water equivalent. Available water is therefore mainly a result of summer glacial melt.
This climate is important for research:
Image: Cloud in Taylor Valley © Andris Apse, Antarctica NZ Pictorial Collection: K211 07/08