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Extreme Climates 2: Wettest Place

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Since over 90 percent of Antarctica is covered by ice, it could be considered the wettest place on earth. But the ice isn't melted so Antarctica isn't that wet. Until recently it was thought that the volcanic peak Mt. Waialeale in Hawaii was the wettest but Cherrapunji, India is much wetter.

You might picture the wettest place in the world covered with thick green forests, heavy downpours, plenty of waterfalls and mountain springs. Well, at one time Cherrapunji looked like that but not anymore. Over time, due to bad weather and human involvement, the forest has been gradually declining. When it rains, sometimes for two months without letting up, the villagers can't grow crops. Five minutes after it rains, there isn't any water to be seen. Plants rot in the ground and the precious soil needed to plant food is washed away.

Cherrapunji, India is famous for its live bridgesCherrapunji, India is famous for its live bridges

It's ironic that locals in the wettest place on earth have more to worry about than which gumboots to wear that day. Cherrapunji deals with monsoons. Monsoons are seasonal winds that bring torrential rains for up to six months, then the wind changes direction and for the next six months hardly any rain falls at all. Cherrapunji sees most of its rain during the monsoon season which last for four months. For the rest of the year villagers deal with drought and have to collect water from a pipeline - it's the only place they can get fresh water.

The city of Cherrapunji is 1290 meters above sea level so all that rain must come down. When it does, the rain runs off the mountains into the valley below. Because India is a poor country the water system for Cherrapunji sucks. There isn't enough clean water during the dry season. Women and children trek all day to get water. You can see women doing laundry in the stream. Buying water is also an option but people who live in the wettest part of the word aren't too eager to fork out the cash.

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