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The Engineer
Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Physics... United States - Member - NY Popular Science - Genetics - Organic Chemistry... Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Ingeniería en Español - Nuevo Miembro - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Albany, New York
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Why is Antarctica so cold?

06/29/2005 11:48 AM

I always like when I learn something new about something I thought I understood pretty well. Take this recent challenge question from Scientific American:

Why is the South Pole colder than the North Pole?

I thought the South Pole was colder than the North Pole simply because the South Pole is located on the center of a continent and since land loses heat much more quickly than the ocean, it was colder. This answer was partially correct, but there is a simpler, more obvious reason. It turns out Antarctica is 9000 ft higher in altitude than the arctic ocean. Now this isn't the first time I've heard that, but it's the first time I stopped and thought about it. That elevation is almost 4000 ft higher than Denver, Colorado. It's almost two-thirds the altitude of Tibet. No wonder it's colder.

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The Feature Creep

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1055
#1

Land mass

06/29/2005 3:01 PM

I always thought it had something to do with the fact there was actually LAND under Antarctica. The North Pole is just floating ice.

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Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 2
#2

Re: Why is Antarctica so cold?

09/08/2021 7:28 AM

"The main reason that Antarctica is colder than the Arctic is that Antarctica is a landmass surrounded by ocean, and the Arctic is an ocean surrounded by landmasses. Antarctica also has a much higher average elevation than the Arctic, and the Antarctic Ice Sheet is bigger and thicker than the ice in the Arctic." yeah this topic is really interesting especially since I'm going in an expedition in Antarctica (read here).

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