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The Polar regions
Transcript of The Polar regions
Polar Regions, n.d., WWF Global, accessed 10 August 2014, <http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/ecoregions/about/habitat_types/habitats/polar_regions/>.
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Only a small number of people depend on the Arctic environment for food and their way of life, through fishing and hunting. But these Polar Regions critically affect the world’s climate. Air and ocean currents are cooled in these regions and circulate back around the world, affecting the global weather system and regulating the temperature like an air-conditioner.
If the ice in these two weather sources melts, the Earth will heat up dramatically, perhaps becoming a hot, dry desert like Mars. These Polar Regions are also the home of many animals that people love, such as penguins, seals and polar bears, and both provide interesting scientific research on the landscape and creatures there.
5.Why the Polar Regions are important
Climate change, as in global warming, is melting the Polar Regions, which especially endangers the Arctic animals like polar bears and the series of other animals that depend on snow and ice for food and shelter. Burning of fossil fuels and the associated increased heat coming from the atmosphere cause this global warming. The warmer temperatures and reduced snow and ice also open up the Arctic to more human habitation, further endangering the environment.
4.Climate change impacts
Antarctica is 98% ice and snow. It reflects the sun’s light, without absorbing it. In winter, the ocean freezes, isolates Antarctica, protecting it from warm ocean currents and nearly doubling its size. There is very little precipitation, and the middle of Antarctica is a cold dry desert with nearly no life except moss on the rocks. The lowest temperature on Earth was –89°C, which was measured in Antarctica, but Antarctica’s average is −49°C.
In the Arctic, there are similar effects but to a lesser extent, so the average temperature is warmer, only −30°C, and in summer on the coastal tips of the Arctic Ocean it’s warm enough for people to grow vegetables.
In Antarctica, wildlife like penguins, seals, birds stay on the coast to fish and to get as much warmth from the sun as possible. In summer, the seas surrounding Antarctica are rich in plankton, krill and other microscopic animals, which attract eight different species of whales to come to feed, including killer whales. There are also a large number of migratory birds there. But even compared to the Arctic, Antarctica is the most forsaken place on Earth. The only plants there are the lichens and moss that clings to rocks.
The Arctic has a larger variety of plants, as its summers are a lot warmer than Antarctica’s. There is a layer called permafrost that is frozen soil under the surface. There is a lot of surface water there, but no large trees, and mostly tundra. There are flowering plants there, like a yellow plant named the Arctic poppy, and Reindeer moss. In the Arctic, there are a lot of animals that are adapted to the cold, like the Arctic fox and the ermine. Their pelts thicken and whiten during the winter, so that they may hunt in snow. Some of the animals hibernate during the winter, like chipmunks, skunks and bears.
The most famous Arctic animals are the polar bears and the Reindeer but there are also many other animals unique to this environment: the Arctic hares, the Alaskan malamute, which is like a sled dog, the Arctic fox, Arctic wolf, the Arctic tern, which is a small bird that flies from Arctic to Antarctic and back again, the Moose, the Musk Ox, the Puffin, the Short-tailed Weasel, the Snow Goose, the Snowy Owl, the Caribou, and the Wolverine. The Arctic is also home to many marine animals like the Walrus, the Narwhal, killer whales, seals, sharks, and whales like the Beluga whale.
3. Major Geographical Processes
The Polar Regions are the Arctic and the Antarctic
The Arctic is made of drifting bits of ice swirling around the Arctic Ocean and the tips of the continents Europe, Asia and North America. The North Pole is in the Arctic Ocean. The edges of the Arctic are typically tundra or forests. Many animals move between these environments during the year.
In contrast, Antarctica is isolated: a lone ice-bound continent, the center of which is the South Pole. Antarctica used to be a green continent but is now buried under 2km of ice and snow. Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest, place on Earth. The wind can get up to well over 200km/h in the Antarctic. The animals in Antarctica are mainly around the ocean and get their food from the water.
1. Description of the Polar Regions
Map showing land that is part of the Polar Regions
Maps showing the changing extent of Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic according to the seasons
2.Where the Polar Regions are