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What's it like at the poles?

The icy waters off AntarcticaThe icy waters off AntarcticaThe North Pole lies not on land but in the ocean: the Arctic Ocean. It is permanently covered by ice, although the size of the ice cap shrinks in summer months as the ice melts. The South Pole lies on the continent of Antarctica. This huge, mountainous landmass is mostly covered by an ice sheet all year round. 

 

Arctic

An icebreaker carving through Arctic pack iceAn icebreaker carving through Arctic pack iceA map of the Arctic OceanA map of the Arctic OceanThe North Pole lies on a floating sheet of ice, 2–3 metres (6–10 feet) thick, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. In winter, pack ice forms around the edges of the ice cap. These are slabs of ice that are constantly being broken up and crushed together by the movement of the water underneath. Greenland is mostly covered with ice throughout the year.


A map of AntarcticaA map of Antarctica

Antarctica

If Greenland’s ice cap were to melt completely, the world’s sea level would rise by more than 7 metres (23 feet).

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