Cryospheric Sciences

Image of the Week – Desert Varnish, Antarctica Style

Desert Varnish, Antarctica Style. Credit: Martha Cary Eppes (distributed via

If you had to describe Antarctica with one colour, red is probably the last one you would pick. However, some parts of the so-called white continent can be surprising in their colours.

Today’s Image of the Week shows us that some parts of Antarctica — Beacon Valley in this case – can be strikingly similar to landscapes in hot deserts….

… speaking of deserts, did you know that:

  • Antarctica is actually the largest and driest desert on Earth?! Indeed, the word “desert” defines areas that receive very little precipitation (less than 250 mm per year to be precise). With 166 mm per year on average (and less than 50 mm in the interior!), Antarctica definitely fulfils this condition.
  • Beacon valley (that you see on this Image of the Week) is considered to be one of the best terrestrial analogues for the current conditions on Mars?!

Edited by Sophie Berger

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. Photographers also retain full rights of use, as Imaggeo images are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence. Submit your photos at

Violaine Coulon is a PhD student at the glaciology unit, at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium. She is using a numerical ice sheet model to assess the long-term sea-level contribution from the Antarctic ice sheet as part of the H2020 PROTECT project. She also investigates the sensitivity of the Antractic ice sheet to the incorporation of lateral variability in the viscoelastic Earth structure across Antarctica.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>