The Dry Valleys of Antarctica

"Sure, the lion is king of the jungle, but airdrop him into Antarctica, and he's just a penguin's bitch."    — Dennis Miller.
On this page:

1997

Images by Billy, Laura Connor and Effie Jarret

The dry valleys are strange: except for a few steep rocks they are the only continental part of Antarctica devoid of ice. Located in the Trans-Antarctic Range, they correspond to a mountain area where evaporation (or rather, sublimation) is more important than snowfall, thus all the ice disappears, leaving dry barren land.


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Disappearing glacier in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Left: Disappearing glacier in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Here a glacier coming from the continental ice field flows down the valley and just dries out. In summer there can be rivers in the Dry Valleys. Moss and some other form of vegetation grow. Some lakes have strange characteristics, like lake Vanda, always covered with ice, but with salt-saturated liquid water underneath and very mysterious biology. Mummified bodies of seals have been found in those parts, hundreds of kilometers from the sea.



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Sublimating ice in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica.

Right: Sublimating ice in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica.

The Dry Valleys are a favorite exploration spot for geologists and microbiologists. I've never been there, those pictures were taken by Laura Connor and Effie Jarret who flew over them several times during their remote sensing missions.



1977

Images by Thierry Cappelle


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Return flight from Dome C to McMurdo above the Dry valleys.

Left: Return flight from Dome C to McMurdo above the Dry valleys.


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In the Dry Valleys: glacial tongue coming down from the inlandsis towards the bottom of the valley. Height of the ice: 30 to 50 meters.

Right: In the Dry Valleys: glacial tongue coming down from the inlandsis towards the bottom of the valley. Height of the ice: 30 to 50 meters.


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Another glacial tongue coming down from the inlandsis towards the bottom of the valley. About 50 meters high.

Left: Another glacial tongue coming down from the inlandsis towards the bottom of the valley. About 50 meters high.

If you want more info on the Dry Valleys, there's an excellent site.

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