The Contrasting Poles

Ocean basin enclosed by continents. Continent surrounded by ocean world.
Winds, ocean currents restricted to an internal basin. Winds, ocean currents circumpolar, uninterrupted by land masses.
Icebergs, derived from glaciers, seasonal measured in cu. meters. Icebergs derived from glaciers and shelf ice; persistent and may measure in excess of 100 cu. m.
Sea ice multiyear, circulates in polar gyre, annual thickness to 1.5m. Sea ice annual, outward growth doubles continental extent, annual thickness to 2.5m.
Land ice in limited areas; largest Greenland ice sheet. 97.6% of land covered in almost unbroken South Polar ice cap.
Elevation at North Pole 1m of sea ice; bedrock 4300m below sea level. Elevation at South Pole 2912m above sea level; bedrock 34m above sea level.
North Pole mean annual temperature -18 degrees C; no research station. South Pole mean annual temperature -50 degrees C; permanent 30 person, meteorolHogical and geophysical research station.
Beaches and shallow extensive continental shelf. Beaches rare; narrow deep continental shelf backed by vertical ice cliffs.
Frozen ground extensive, over 500m. Frozen ground limited to ice free areas.
Tundra well developed, extensive, marked by a tree, shrubline. No tundra, no tree line. Subantarctic zone marked by antarctic convergence.
90 species of flowering plants at 82 degrees N lat., 450 species at 66 degrees -70 degrees N lat. Crustaceous lichens at 82 degrees S lat., 2 species of flowering plants at 66 degrees -70 degrees S lat., vegetation primarily lichens and mosses.
Arachnids, crustaceans, insects, and myriapods numerous and common. Free living arthropods include insects (2), mites (150), Collembolla (6), scarce.
Musk ox, reindeer, caribou, fox, hare, wolf, lemming, bears, etc. No terrestrial animals.
Whales and porpoises (18), seals (7), amphibious mammals (1). Whales and porpoises (14), seals (4).
Bird species 107 (75 degrees -80 degrees N lat.). Bird species 19 (70 degrees -80 degrees S lat.).
Primitive man with long rich cultural record; ethnic groups circumarctic. No record of primitive man; no native groups.
Human population 60 degrees N, in excess of 2 million, modern settlements, widespread exploitation and technological development. Population 60 degrees S sparse, scattered at scientific stations. No exploitation of terrestrial resources.
Crossing of Arctic Circle prehistoric. Crossing of Antarctic Circle by James Cook, January 17, 1772.
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