Polar bear cub

Introduction: The frigid zones of the world

The Polar zones of Earth are the regions of Earth surrounding the Northern and the Southern Pole – the northern rests on the Arctic Ocean including Northern Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Greenland and the arctic ice caps in the north, whereas the southern is on the Antarctica continent. Climate is frigid and life is scarce on these regions, with living conditions being severe and harsh on them all year long. This is because they are the farthest from the Equator and thus receive much less sun radiation and warmth than any other place on our planet. They are pretty much permanently covered by ice so they have no soil and because of this, they contain no trees or shrubs. Despite all that, they still contain complex ecosystems with a variety of species such as the polar bear of subspecies of penguins.

Polar Zones Description

In both the Arctic and the Antarctic, even in the deep of summer, the sun is low enough for temperatures to be lower than could possible feel okay for us denizens of warmer regions. Often times, it is so cold that when the snow falls it does not melt, but gradually accumulates over a long stretch of time – in some cases, thousands of years – and forms thick ice sheets. In the Antarctic, in the Southern Hemisphere, these ice sheets are considerably larger than in the Arctic where they are mainly restricted in Greenland, in the Northern Hemisphere, covering pretty much the entirety of the Antarctic continent.

They reason why polar climates are of such a low temperature is that for approximately half the year, the Sun does not rise above the horizon. Once, a temperature of -88 °C was reported in the Antarctica. In addition, polar climates can be as dry as a desert as the air gets so extremely cold that it ends up containing very little moisture.

Polar Ecology and Ecosystems

Survival in the frigid Polar Regions of the Earth is incredibly difficult, with temperatures diving deep into the negatives, cold winds whipping across the land and nights often lasting for months. As unlikely as it would seem to outsiders, these barren lands are home to a rich diversity of wildlife, evolved to survive despite the constant environmental adversity.

They have had to have specific adaptations in order to live in this harsh environment: These included being really big and insolated, with thick layers of fat or blubber, having a lot of fur and to be of a darker color. Many animal species also live in groups in order to be better able to protect themselves from the cold. Usually, they are homeotherms which are animals that easily maintain high temperatures.

Of the largest existing animals in the Polar Regions foxes, hares, wolves, polar bears and caribou are the most populous species. At sea one can encounter amongst other species squids, whales, cods, herring, seals and penguins and salmons.

The Arctic Zone

Scientists most commonly define the Arctic Zone as the region above the Arctic Circle, an imaginary line circling the globe at approximately 66° 34′ N. The Circle marks the latitude above which the sun does not set on the summer solstice, and does not rise on the winter solstice. The sun rises and sets once each year: Therefore, there are roughly six months of continuous daylight and six months of continuous night. The lower the latitudes go, the duration of continuous daytime and time grow shorter.

There are alternative definitions of the Arctic. Some scientists have defined the Arctic as the area north of the arctic tree line, where the landscape is frozen and dotted with shrubs and lichens. Others have defined the Arctic based on temperature. Under this definition, it includes any location in high latitude where the average summer temperature will not rise above ten degrees Celsius.

The Antarctic Zone

South of the Antarctic Circle at approximately 66.5°S latitude one can find the continent of Antarctica, surrounded by the Southern Ocean, the geographic South Pole and magnetic South pole. Large amounts of ice cover the land, and spill over to adjacent seas as ice shelves. In the summer there may be as many as four thousand people in the Antarctic in various scientific research stations, doing many types of research on biology, geology, oceanography, astronomy, astrophysics, oceanography, climatology and meteorology.

South of the Antarctic Circle, the sun is above the horizon for twenty four hours continuously at least once per year. The position of the Antarctic Circle is not fixed. As of July 14th of 2017, it runs 66°33′46.8″ south of the Equator. Its latitude fluctuates, depending on the Earth’s axial tilt, fluctuating within a margin of 2°, due to forces resulting from the orbit of the Moon. Consequently, the Antarctic Circle currently drifts southwards at a speed of fifteen meters per year.

When it comes to size, the Antarctic Circle is about 17.500 kilometers long. The area expanding south of the Circle is approximately 20.000.000 km2 covering roughly about four per cent of the grand totality of the Earth’s surface. Much of the area within the Circle is covered by the continent of Antarctica.

Conclusion

To summarize, the Polar Zones are the areas of the Earth that surround the North and the South Pole, called Arctic and Antarctic respectively. They are of extremely harsh conditions, with very cold temperatures making living very difficult if not outright improbable for humans. Still, many kinds of animal species have evolved to survive even under the constant environmental adversity. When it comes to their definition, the Arctic is most commonly defined the Arctic Zone as the region above the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic, as the area south of the Antarctic Circle. Currently, a great number of scientists do constant research on both of these areas in order to speed up understanding of these remote lands. Research subjects include meteorology, biology, oceanography, astronomy, astrophysics and climatology. Research and exploration bases are maintained by the United States, Argentina, Russia and New Zealand amongst others.

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