With 98% of its surface covered with various forms of snow and ice, it’s no wonder that the continent of Antarctica attracts “cold weather” scientists from all over the world. Basically, Antarctica is a snow and ice “factory” with ice depths on the Polar Plateau reaching 15,000 feet (the continent’s average ice thickness is 7,000 feet). Thus, one of Antarctica’s most important resources is its ice. It is said that Antarctica’s ice accounts for 70% of the world’s fresh water. Some people have considered towing icebergs from Antarctica to parts of the world in need of fresh water.
As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert. The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches. So, where did all this snow and ice come from? The answer lies in Antarctica’s unique location at the bottom of the world and the unique weather conditions that exist there.