Challenge Questions Blog

Challenge Questions

Stop in and exercise your brain. Talk about this month's Challenge from Specs & Techs or similar puzzles.

So do you have a Challenge Question that could stump the community? Then submit the question with the "correct" answer and we'll post it. If it's really good, we may even roll it up to Specs & Techs. You'll be famous!

Answers to Challenge Questions appear by the last Tuesday of the month.

Previous in Blog: The Merlin Rocket Engine: Newsletter Challenge (October 2014)   Next in Blog: Autumnal Glow: Newsletter Challenge (December 2014)
Close
Close
Close
20 comments

Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

Posted November 01, 2014 12:00 AM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge questions

This month's Challenge Question: Specs & Techs from IHS Engineering360:

The two poles of the Earth contain ice. Why does Antarctica have much more ice (about ten times more) than the Arctic?

And the answer is:

Ice in the arctic circle is over the ocean, while Antarctica is a solid landmass. Water has a high heat capacity, so it takes a long time to absorb heat, but also a long time to lose heat. During summer the Arctic water stores heat and in winter it releases it. On the other hand, land does not have a high heat capacity so it releases heat very fast, keeping the land to a lower temperature all year round.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Piping Design Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Richland, WA, USA
Posts: 20984
Good Answers: 781
#1

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/01/2014 6:04 AM

My guess is that the land mass beneath insulates the bottom of the ice.

__________________
In vino veritas; in cervisia carmen; in aqua E. coli.
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Australia.
Posts: 1642
Good Answers: 81
#2

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/01/2014 6:07 AM

The South Pole is surrounded by the ocean, which raises the moisture content in the air, and the cold air off Antarctica causes it to precipitate, and precipitation in turn cools the air. As the ocean surrounding the South Pole is more abundant and warmer than the waters around the North Pole, there is a larger mass of colder air due to precipitation, that freezes the Antarctica continent. The warmer the ocean around Antarctica the larger it will be.

Regards JD.

Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#3

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/01/2014 10:42 AM

You are both correct.

It's weather patterns and land mass.

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 373
Good Answers: 2
#6
In reply to #3

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/02/2014 9:57 AM

And I would add the wind patterns (catabaric?) may favor the importation of more moisture to the South Pole.

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Optical Engineering - Member Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Member Engineering Fields - Systems Engineering - Member

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Trantor
Posts: 5363
Good Answers: 646
#10
In reply to #3

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/02/2014 11:40 PM

Yes to those - but also:

The Gulf Stream in the Northern Hemisphere sends a current of warm water up past the British Isles and beyond Scandinavia, bringing warm water to the Arctic and minimizing the accumulation of ice. (The Gulf Stream is why Ireland has a relatively mild climate despite it's high latitude. You can find tropical plants growing there.)

There is no Southern Hemisphere equivalent. Antarctica is surrounded by a steady stream of cold water called the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which keeps the continent locked in a ice zone.

__________________
Whiskey, women -- and astrophysics. Because sometimes a problem can't be solved with just whiskey and women.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Tamworth, UK.
Posts: 1781
Good Answers: 45
#4

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/02/2014 5:55 AM

The south pole is at the bottom of the World and therefore water runs down to it, but leaving some water at the North pole which is frozen - perhaps.

__________________
When arguing, remember mud-slinging = lost ground.
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/02/2014 9:05 AM

Wait until the poles flip, then see what happens!

Reply
Participant

Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1
#14
In reply to #4

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/04/2014 10:04 AM

Warm air rises too, melting lots of ice at the top of the world.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Tamilnadu, India
Posts: 837
Good Answers: 42
#7

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/02/2014 10:50 AM

1.Based upon the open sea surface area availability, the southern pole is having less land and more water surface surrounded. So more scope for water vapor formation at southern pole than northern pole.

2.The 23.5 degrees shift of equator poses more sunshine gives more scope for water vapor formation & clouds accumulation on southern pole.

3,The shift of sun's path away from the earth in winter season have a profound effect at southern pole leading to more ice formation consolidated by point one.

4.The overall temperature of southern pole is comparatively lower due lesser effects of global warming like emissions etc.

5. Whereas more rain fall is feasible at north pole surroundings, due to condensation. rain fall scope is lesser at southern pole & hence more of ice formation with lesser rain leading to more of ice accumulation.

6. Arctic is surrounded by more land and Antarctic by more sea.

7. Lack of high altitude mountains at antarctic, prevents ice melting during summer seasons unlike Himalayas, alphs etc.

That justifies 10 times more ice formation at antarctic than at arctic from a common man's view.???

__________________
Nature is so graceful and naked. Human possession is ridiculous.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Glen Mills, PA.
Posts: 2385
Good Answers: 114
#8

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/02/2014 1:25 PM

As happens ocasionally, this sent me on a trek through the interwebs and I found this interesting, and to me, surprising piece.

__________________
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 734
Good Answers: 70
#9

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/02/2014 10:32 PM

One major factor is that the Roaring Forties is a circum global wind pattern that effectively seals the region south or 45 degrees or so from mixing with the warmer air just south of the equator. Similarly wind pattern (blowing continuously from the west) creates a circum global marine current which impedes mixing between the warm equatorial waters and the colder Antarctic waters. These factors in combination with the underlying land mass of Antarctica keeping much of the ice out of the water and even raised to higher (colder) elevations explains most of the difference.

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 734
Good Answers: 70
#16
In reply to #9

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/04/2014 1:35 PM

One other factor is the difference between the albedo in the North and South. The arctic ice sheet has openings where water is exposed to the sun, and the dark water absorbs more heat. In the south the ice coverage is much more continuous so more of the radiation is reflected. A further complication is that in the industrialized northern hemisphere there is more particulate carbon in the atmosphere, and where it settles on snow or ice you get 'dirty ice'. The albedo is reduced resulting in more heat being absorbed. The relatively pristine southern atmosphere has much less particulate carbon, and this smaller load is effectively blocked from the Antarctic by the Roaring Forties.

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Power-User

Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 119
Good Answers: 16
#11

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/03/2014 6:34 AM

While all the already mentioned causes have a contribution, I think the main cause of the difference is the presence of the continent in the Antarctic region - this allows the accumulation of ice because the only source of melting is the warmer summer (the frozen soil acts like a thermal insulator). But the summer is not worm enough (and long enough) to melt all the snow that has fallen during one year, so layers of snow turn into ice and add to the total thickness. But in the Arctic region there is an ocean, so the ice is floating on water and this causes a more important source of melting (which also acts all over the year). Also, any snow accumulation will cause more ice to be under the water (the ratio of under and over the water ice is constant) and this will accelerate the melting - it's a self-regulating mechanism that doesn't allow the ice to get too thick.

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Engineering Fields - Instrumentation Engineering - EE from the the Wilds of Pa.

Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania
Posts: 2603
Good Answers: 63
#12

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/04/2014 8:20 AM

Okay - a bit off topic, but, I remember reading a theory that the last ice age was caused by a huge freshwater lake in Canada that, and I don't remember why, suddenly dumped to the North Atlantic and stopped the Gulf Stream flow, because the freshwater stopped the Gulf Stream from diving down to return southward due to density differences. I've Googled this and cannot find that theory anymore. Did I just dream this? That would certainly support usbport's post.

__________________
Remember when reading my post: (-1)^½ m (2)^½
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Participant

Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 2
#13

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/04/2014 10:03 AM

Sort of on topic: Since this ice mass is very large and deep, how do you explain the presence of much tropical vegetation buried underneath all that ice? It was at one time a tropical paradise, that occurred before the earth had it's axis tipped to where it is today.

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Popular Science - Evolution - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: May 2006
Location: The 'Space Coast', USA
Posts: 11112
Good Answers: 918
#15
In reply to #13

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/04/2014 11:14 AM

Continents are not static with regard to their position of the Earth's surface and there was land bridges between some continents and Antarctica at the time.

It was the Eocene epoch that was credited with the balmy temperatures in the Antarctic ~50 million years ago. Earth had very little ice and CO2 levels were as high as 2,000 ppm. I am sure someone will blame that on humans.

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Participant

Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 2
#17
In reply to #15

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/05/2014 4:57 PM

That is 1 opinion, my opinion is that about 4400 years ago, the LORD judged the earth with a universal flood. The land bridges were destroyed as you said, and there was a resultant axis tip of the earth. How else can anyone explain the presence of a fossilized whale VERTICALLY positioned in amongst layers of rock that some non-creation scientists say these rock strata are millions and millions of years of layers, yet a single whale is vertical through all those layers supposedly that old. These whales and other 'prehistoric' creatures are readily found in the USA- south west, in diatomaceous earth mines. Check it out.

Reply Off Topic (Score 7)
Guru
Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 1630
Good Answers: 19
#20
In reply to #17

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/26/2014 4:31 AM

Where did the water for the global deluge come from?

In the account of creation, it said that,, the earth was surrounded by a canopy of water, so the whole earth was like a greenhouse, it was not frigid at the poles, it was tropical, as we know. Come the flood of Noah's day, the water in the canopy surrounding the earth, came down to earth. This would have changed the face of the earth, not only as far as land masses were concerned, but, also climate wise........like we have today.

Another point on this is this is the only reasonable explanation that woolly mammoths have been discovered in a complete state of preservation, even with vegetation still in their mouths. This could not have happened if it was an ice age that was responsible for their demise, these animals were snap frozen.

Consider also the numerous charnel houses around the globe that contain the remains of numerous different kinds of animals, that never ever herded together, all in a layers of silt.........some of these charnel houses are in caves in mountainous areas. WHY? Could they have been trying to escape the rising flood waters of that global flood. One thing is certain they sure didn't think to themselves "I am going to die, I will just crawl in this cave to die,"...............interesting, isn't it?

__________________
TO BE. or NOT TO BE. That is the question!! The Bard
Reply Off Topic (Score 6)
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 507
#18

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/08/2014 1:38 PM

first important reason for this is the landmass of the antartica, the artic ice shelf is swimming on water that flows around the landmasses (mexican gulf stream) and so does the air flowing/streaming around the rocky mountains.

the north half of the earth contains much more landmass than the south half, so the air moisture is in the south half much higher as a second importnt reason.

a less important reason is the radiation of the sun - the vapor is created by the suns radiation (much radiation much vapor? - much water much vapor)

Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 13
#19

Re: Icy Imbalance: Newsletter Challenge (November 2014)

11/12/2014 2:48 PM

Because Antarctica is a continent while the Artic is an ocean. The Artic snow field is floating over water, it is not very thick because the currents under the ice cap supply heat to prevent the whole thing to freeze. In Antarctica the snow is over land, that does not supply heat to melt the snow in contact with the soil. Therefore snow is simply accumulating there for eons.

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 20 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Alex. Roman (1); Anonymous Hero (3); bullardrr (1); Carl Westhoff (1); horace40 (1); jdretired (1); johnfotl (2); MOBI (1); passingtongreen (1); Phys (1); s.udhayamarthandan (1); srmadison (1); Toggenburg (2); Tornado (1); Usbport (1); WilhelmHKoen (1)

Previous in Blog: The Merlin Rocket Engine: Newsletter Challenge (October 2014)   Next in Blog: Autumnal Glow: Newsletter Challenge (December 2014)

Advertisement