Polar region

Polar region

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Polar region'
Start a new discussion about 'Polar region'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia


Earth's
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 polar regions are the areas of the globe surrounding the poles
Geographical pole
A geographical pole is either of the two points—the north pole and the south pole—on the surface of a rotating planet where the axis of rotation meets the surface of the body...

 also known as frigid zones
Geographical zone
The five main latitude regions of the Earth's surface comprise geographical zones, divided by the major circles of latitude. The differences between them relate to climate, and the behaviour of the Sun...

. The North Pole
North Pole
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

 and South Pole
South Pole
The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole...

 being the centers, these regions are dominated by the polar ice cap
Polar ice cap
A polar ice cap is a high latitude region of a planet or natural satellite that is covered in ice. There are no requirements with respect to size or composition for a body of ice to be termed a polar ice cap, nor any geological requirement for it to be over land; only that it must be a body of...

s, resting respectively on the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 and the continent of Antarctica. Polar sea ice
Sea ice
Sea ice is largely formed from seawater that freezes. Because the oceans consist of saltwater, this occurs below the freezing point of pure water, at about -1.8 °C ....

 is currently diminishing, possibly as a result of global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

.

Definitions


The Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 has numerous definitions, including the region north of the Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs north of the Equator....

 currently (Epoch 2010 at 66°33'44" N), or the region north of 60° north
60th parallel north
The 60th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 60 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 latitude, or the region from the North Pole south to the timberline.

The Antarctic
Antarctic
The Antarctic is the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence...

 is usually defined as south of 60° south
60th parallel south
The 60th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 60 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. No land lies on the parallel—it crosses nothing but ocean...

 latitude, or the continent of Antarctica. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty
Antarctic Treaty System
The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System or ATS, regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land...

 uses the former definition.

Climate



Polar region receive less intensive solar radiation because the sun's energy arrives at an oblique angle, spreading over a larger area, and also travels a longer distance through the Earth's atmosphere in which it may be absorbed, scattered or reflected, which is the same thing that causes winters to be colder than the rest of the year in temperate areas.

The axial tilt
Axial tilt
In astronomy, axial tilt is the angle between an object's rotational axis, and a line perpendicular to its orbital plane...

 of the Earth has a major effect on climate
Effect of sun angle on climate
The amount of heat energy received at any location on the globe is a direct effect of sun angle on climate, as the angle at which sunlight strikes the Earth varies by location, time of day, and season due to the Earth's orbit around the sun and the Earth's rotation around its tilted axis...

 of the polar regions. Since the polar regions are the farthest from the equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

, they receive the least amount of sunlight and are therefore frigid. The large amount of ice and snow also reflects a large part of what little sunlight the Polar regions receive, contributing to the cold. Polar regions are characterized by the polar climate
Polar climate
Regions with a polar climate are characterized by a lack of warm summers . Regions with polar climate cover over 20% of the Earth. The sun shines 24 hours in the summer, and barely ever shines at all in the winter...

, extremely cold temperatures, heavy glaciation wherever there is sufficient precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 to form permanent ice, and extreme variations in daylight hours, with twenty-four hours of daylight
Midnight sun
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon occurring in summer months at latitudes north and nearby to the south of the Arctic Circle, and south and nearby to the north of the Antarctic Circle where the sun remains visible at the local midnight. Given fair weather, the sun is visible for a continuous...

 in summer, and complete darkness
Polar night
The polar night occurs when the night lasts for more than 24 hours. This occurs only inside the polar circles. The opposite phenomenon, the polar day, or midnight sun, occurs when the sun stays above the horizon for more than 24 hours.-Description:...

 at mid-winter
Winter
Winter is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.-Meteorology:...

.

Circumpolar Arctic Region



There are many settlements in Earth's north polar region. Countries with claims to Arctic regions are: the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

), Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 (Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

), Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Arctic circumpolar populations often share more in common with each other than with other populations within their national boundaries. As such, the northern polar region is diverse in human settlements and cultures.

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean


The southern polar region has no permanent human habitation. McMurdo Station
McMurdo Station
McMurdo Station is a U.S. Antarctic research center located on the southern tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National...

 is the largest research station in Antarctica, run by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Other notable stations include Palmer Station
Palmer Station
Palmer Station, on Anvers Island, is Antarctica's only US station north of the Antarctic Circle. Initial construction of the station finished in 1968. The station, like the other US Antarctic stations, is operated by the United States Antarctic Program....

 and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station is the American scientific research station on the high plateau of Antarctica. This station is located at the southernmost place on the Earth, the Geographic South Pole, at an elevation of 2,835 meters above sea level.The original Amundsen-Scott Station was...

 (United States), Esperanza Base
Esperanza Base
-References:*Antarctica. Sydney: Reader's Digest, 1985, p. 156-157.*Child, Jack. Antarctica and South American Geopolitics: Frozen Lebensraum. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1988, p. 73....

 and Marambio Base
Marambio Base
Prior to the base's foundation a team led by Vice-Commodore Mario Luis Olezza built the 1200 m long, 40 m wide landing track, the first one in the continent. Nowadays, the track, oriented 05/23, is equipped with VOR, DME and NDB electronic landing systems. It also has a radio beacon,...

 (Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

), Scott Base
Scott Base
Scott Base is a research facility located in Antarctica and is operated by New Zealand. It was named after Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Royal Navy, leader of two British expeditions to the Ross Sea area of Antarctica...

 (New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

), and Vostok Station
Vostok Station
Vostok Station was a Russian Antarctic research station. It was at the southern Pole of Cold, with the lowest reliably measured natural temperature on Earth of −89.2 °C . Research includes ice core drilling and magnetometry...

 (Russia).

While there are no indigenous human cultures, there is a complex ecosystem, especially along Antarctica's coastal zones. Coastal upwelling
Upwelling
Upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water. The increased availability in upwelling regions results in high levels of primary...

 provides abundant nutrients which feeds krill
Krill
Krill is the common name given to the order Euphausiacea of shrimp-like marine crustaceans. Also known as euphausiids, these small invertebrates are found in all oceans of the world...

, a type of marine crustacea, which in turn feeds a complex of living creatures from penguins to blue whales.

Extraterrestrial polar regions


Other planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

s and natural satellite
Natural satellite
A natural satellite or moon is a celestial body that orbits a planet or smaller body, which is called its primary. The two terms are used synonymously for non-artificial satellites of planets, of dwarf planets, and of minor planets....

s in the solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 have interesting quirks about their polar regions. Earth's Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 is thought to contain substantial deposits of ice
Ice
Ice is water frozen into the solid state. Usually ice is the phase known as ice Ih, which is the most abundant of the varying solid phases on the Earth's surface. It can appear transparent or opaque bluish-white color, depending on the presence of impurities or air inclusions...

 in deep craters in its polar regions, which never see direct sunlight
Sunlight
Sunlight, in the broad sense, is the total frequency spectrum of electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun. On Earth, sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere, and solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon.When the direct solar radiation is not blocked...

. Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

, like Earth, has polar ice caps. On Uranus
Uranus
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus , the father of Cronus and grandfather of Zeus...

, meanwhile, the extreme tilt of the planet's axis leads to the poles alternately pointing almost directly at the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

.

Antarctic

  • Antarctica
  • Ecozone of Antarctica
    Antarctica ecozone
    Antarctica is one of eight terrestrial ecozones. The ecosystem includes Antarctica and several island groups in the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans...

  • Expeditions of Antarctica
  • Geography of Antarctica
    Geography of Antarctica
    The geography of Antarctica is dominated by its south polar location and, thus, by ice. The Antarctic continent, located in the Earth's southern hemisphere, is centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle...

  • History of Antarctica
    History of Antarctica
    The history of Antarctica emerges from early Western theories of a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, believed to exist in the far south of the globe...


Arctic

  • Arctic
    Arctic
    The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

  • Arctic exploration
    Arctic exploration
    Arctic exploration is the physical exploration of the Arctic region of the Earth. The region that surrounds the North Pole. It refers to the historical period during which mankind has explored the region north of the Arctic Circle...

  • Arctic Circle
    Arctic Circle
    The Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. For Epoch 2011, it is the parallel of latitude that runs north of the Equator....

  • Arctic Ocean
    Arctic Ocean
    The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

  • Canadian Arctic Archipelago
    Canadian Arctic Archipelago
    The Canadian Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Arctic Archipelago, is a Canadian archipelago north of the Canadian mainland in the Arctic...


Polar

  • Geographical Pole
    Geographical pole
    A geographical pole is either of the two points—the north pole and the south pole—on the surface of a rotating planet where the axis of rotation meets the surface of the body...

    • North Pole
      North Pole
      The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the northern hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface...

    • South Pole
      South Pole
      The South Pole, also known as the Geographic South Pole or Terrestrial South Pole, is one of the two points where the Earth's axis of rotation intersects its surface. It is the southernmost point on the surface of the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the Earth from the North Pole...

  • Geographical Zone
    Geographical zone
    The five main latitude regions of the Earth's surface comprise geographical zones, divided by the major circles of latitude. The differences between them relate to climate, and the behaviour of the Sun...

  • Polar Drift
    Polar drift
    Polar drift is a geological phenomenon caused by variations in the flow of molten iron in Earth's outer core, resulting in changes in the orientation of Earth's magnetic field, and hence the position of the magnetic north pole....

  • Polar Low
    Polar low
    A polar low is a small-scale, long-lived atmospheric low pressure system that is found over the ocean areas poleward of the main polar front in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The systems usually have a horizontal length scale of less than and exist for no more than a couple of days. ...


External links