North vs. South Poles - What are the differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic?




About half of the ice disappears in the Arctic during the summer months. It grows back to about the size of the United States during the winter. Studies have showed that the Arctic ice is melting so rapidly that in the entire area could be ice-free during the summer in a few decades. Recently, scientists have found out that the Antarctic ice sheets are melting too, but not that much.


The Ozone Hole

The ozone hole over the Antarctic has grown very much over the last few decades. The Arctic is not losing so much ozone because of warmer temperatures.



The Antarctic's average temperature is about -49 ° Celsius. This makes it the coldest place on the planet. The average Arctic temperature during the winter months is - 34° Celsius but it gets warmer in the summer. The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -89°Celsius, at the Antarctic Vostok station in July 1983.



Even though there are probably oil and gas reserves under the Antarctic continent, the Antarctic Treaty forbids drilling. Energy hungry nations on the other side are moving north. About a quarter of all oil reserves are said to lie north of the Arctic Circle .




No Man's Land


Past explorers have repeatedly planted flags at the South Pole to claim it for their country. However, the continent is the only place on Earth that is not owned by anyone. It does not have any native people and land and resources may only be used for peaceful purposes. On the other side, there are about 4million people living north of the Arctic Circle. Major cities include Barrow, Alaska or Murmansk, Russia.



The southernmost continent has 90% of the world's ice .About three quarters of the world's freshwater is locked up in these frozen reserves.


Land and Water

The main difference is that the Arctic region is a gigantic mass of floating ice surrounded by land. The Antarctic is a continent with mountain ranges and plateaus surrounded by an ocean.



Related Topics



  • Arctic Circle = a line around the globe at 66,5° north
  • area = place, region
  • average =middle
  • claim = to say that something belongs to you or your country
  • decade = a period of ten years
  • disappear =go away
  • drill = to make a hole deep into the Earth in order to get resources out of it
  • entire = the whole
  • even though =while
  • explorer = someone who travels to an unknown area to find out more about it
  • float = swim, drift
  • forbid = ban, not allow
  • freshwater = water that has no salt in it
  • gigantic = very, very big
  • lock up = you cannot use it because it is frozen
  • main = major, basic
  • melt = when ice turns into water
  • native = people who have always lived there
  • peaceful purposes = not for war
  • rapidly = very fast
  • record = to write down information
  • repeatedly =again and again
  • resources = the raw materials that a country has
  • scientist =a person who is trained in science
  • southernmost = the continent that is furthest south
  • study = a piece of written work that wants to find out more about a topic
  • surrounded = to be all around something
  • treaty = a piece of paper that is a written agreement between two or more countries