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Facts About The Polar Ice Caps For Kids

Polar ice packs are large areas of pack ice formed from seawater in the Earth’s polar regions, known as polar ice caps: the Arctic ice pack (or Arctic ice cap) of the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic ice pack of the Southern Ocean, fringing the Antarctic ice sheet.  The vast bulk of the world’s sea ice forms in the Arctic ocean and the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica.

  • The Antarctic ice cover is highly seasonal, with very little ice in the austral summer, expanding to an area roughly equal to that of Antarctica in winter.
  • The amount melted each summer is affected by the different environments: the cold Antarctic pole is over land, which is bordered by sea ice in the freely circulating Southern Ocean.
  • Arctic methane release triggered by a breakdown in sea ice could cause an abrupt climate change event, potentially similar in some ways to the Paleocene–Eocene thermal maximum event, or to the great dying, a mass extinction event.
  • Sea ice has an important effect on the heat balance of the polar oceans, since it insulates the (relatively) warm ocean from the much colder air above, thus reducing heat loss from the oceans.
  • The sea ice cycle is also an important source of dense (saline) “bottom water”.
  • The remaining surface water, made dense by the extra salinity, sinks, leading to the productions of dense water masses such as Antarctic Bottom Water.
  • The frequency and accuracy of passive microwave measurements improved with the launch of the DMSP F8 Special Sensor Microwave/Imager SSMI in 1987.
  • A modeling study of the 52-year period from 1948 to 1999 found a statistically significant trend in Arctic ice volume of −3% per decade; splitting this into wind-forced and temperature forced components shows it to be essentially all caused by the temperature forcing.
  • While the satellite era has enabled better measurement of trends in areal extent, accurate ice thickness measurements remain a challenge.
  • A 2007 NASA study concluded that the shrinkage was the result of “unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic.”
  • The NSIDC also reported that, for the first time in recorded history, the Northwest Passage opened to ships without the need of icebreakers.
  • The ice was also found to be 3.9 to 7.>9 in thicker than the previous year in some areas.
  • The North Pole could at that point have been circumnavigated.
  • , although the icebreaker Polarstern was the only ship to actually make the circumnavigation.
  • The extent of the 2009 summer sea ice cover was the fourth lowest value of the satellite monitoring record and more than 25% below the 1979–2000 average.
  • Ice extent reached its minimum of 1.67 million square miles on September 9, 2011 – the second lowest summer extent since satellite monitoring began.
  • Arctic sea ice was at a new record low on September 16th 2012 at 1.32 million square miles.
  • The weather is very cold, and there is snow cover for 10 months of the year on average and sometimes snow from one year persists into the next year in protected areas.