Cold, Coldddd Places

The coldest areas exist around the North or South poles in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the globe. Other than the fact that both are cold, there are many differences in these areas.

The Arctic region is comprised of some land masses—mostly large islands in the Arctic Ocean, including Russia, United States, Canada, Greenland, and Norway. Most of the Arctic consists of water influenced by the warmer ocean wind currents. There are seasonal variations in temperature, with an average temperature of about 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Indigenous plant communities exist, generally known as “tundra,” along with terrestrial mammals such as polar bear, arctic fox, wolves, reindeer, musk ox, lemmings, and Arctic hare. Whales, porpoise, seals, and various birds such as puffins, also reside in the Arctic. Humans have been living there for a very long time; including indigenous populations of Inuit, Siberians, and other cultures. The average thickness of the arctic ice mass is about 12 feet. The ice sheet accumulates and melts, depending on the season. For the most part, the ice sheet is level.

Changes in Arctic Ice

Video courtesy of NASA

Antarctica, on the other hand, is primarily land mass, about twice the size of Australia, and is a continent considered to be international territory. This area is not influenced by ocean air masses to any great extent, so there is not much warming and cooling. The average temperature in Antarctica is -58 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to this extreme cold, ice continues to accumulate in this area. There is a 9,300 foot tall ice mass found here. In some places, the ice is more than two miles thick. The only plant communities found here consist of lichens and aquatic plants such as algae. There are no native land mammals found in this cold desolate region. Sea birds, penguins, seals, insects, whales, and fish are the main fauna found here. James Cook is believed to be the first person to discover Antarctica in 1773; there are no indigenous people living there. Most of the inhabitants of this region are scientists.

Thinking about these two extreme areas makes you realize that we don’t have it too bad here in Frederick County.

Article by FCFCDB member

Nature Note for 1/5/20