Living in the Driest Place on Earth ~ Kwentology


Weather is what it's like outside from day to day. Climate is weather over a long period of time. Check out both climate and weather facts on these pages.

Where is the Driest Place on Earth?

Arica, a city in Chile in South America, once went 14 years without a single drop of rain. The average amount of precipitation that falls is a measly 0.03 inches. Arica is located in the world's driest desert—the Atacama.

The desert covers more than 600 miles. In this desolate area, you won't see plants or animals, just vast stretches of empty land. One region has soil that is similar to the kind found on Mars. In fact, sci-fi directors sometimes film in the Atacama.

Image of Atacama Desert

You can see snow-capped Andes Mountains from the bone-dry Atacama Desert.

Image of Plants in Atacama Desert

Plants in the Atacama Desert get the water they need by taking in moisture from fog.

Even though the Atacama Desert is such a harsh environment, there are towns and farms. How do people survive? Some communities transported water by truck, but that was very expensive. Today, they make use of a marine fog called camanchaca (ka-men-chak-a). The scientists found a way to collect the dense fog that forms on Chile's Pacific coast and drifts inland over the desert. People hang netting, which captures the water droplets in the fog. The droplets condense and drip into basins. The water is then piped to villages in the area. In the village of Chungungo, their system supplies the residents with more than 2,500 gallons of water each day.

Image of Camanchaca in Atacama Desert

Nets like these collect water droplets in the fog.
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