efe_epaLivingston Island, Antarctica

Antarctica is an important regulator of the planet's climate, capable of influencing - scientists say - things as distant as the blooming of cherry trees in Japan or how clear the skies are over Chile's Atacama Desert.

"What happens in Antarctica will determine the climate in other regions very far from this remote continent," scientist Edgardo Vega told EFE.

The white continent at the bottom of the world, for example, influences the clarity of the atmosphere in the Atacama Desert, the skies of which are considered to be the best on Earth for astronomical observations.

According to Vega, one of the factors making that desert the planet's most arid is "the influence of Antarctica on the ocean current that comes up along the Chilean coast."

"This current cools the water and reduces ... evaporation, which reduces rainfall and cloud cover in the region," said the assistant director of the Chilean National Antarctic Institute (INACH).

Another of the many factors making the frozen continent an important regulator of the world's climate is the melting of the ice covering there.

"Simply put, we could say that when the fresh water of the glaciers melts - being less dense than saltwater - and comes into contact with the ocean currents it alters (the sea's) salinity, which influences the interaction between the ocean surface and the atmosphere," Bolivar Caceres, the head of the glacier program at Ecuador's National Weather Institute, told EFE.

"All the oceans are connected and so anything that happens on this continent can give rise to an intense drought or torrential rains in distant parts of the planet. It's like a butterfly effect," Caceres said.

In March 2015, Antarctica's temperature rose to 17.5 C (63.5 F), the highest on record.

Four days later, in the Atacama Desert in 24 hours the same amount of rain fell that had fallen in the previous 14 years. The unusual weather phenomenon sparked a series of huge mudslides in which 31 people died and 49 are missing.

"In weather terms, four days are nothing. Could it be that those phenomena were connected? We still have no answer to this question and so it's absolutely necessary that we keep investing resources to do science in Antarctica," said Vega, one of the participants in the 53rd Chilean Antarctic Expedition.