The polar regions

Common to both polar regions is the semi-annual alternation between polar night and polar day, and the prevalence of snow and ice surfaces. These factors control the surface energy budget regimes and low annual temperatures (see Chapter 10B). The polar regions are also energy sinks for the global atmospheric circulation (see Chapter 7C.1), and in both cases they are overlain by large-scale circulation vortices in the middle troposphere and above (see Figures 7.3 and 7.4). In many other respects, the two polar regions differ markedly because of geographical factors. The north polar region comprises the Arctic Ocean, with its almost year-round sea ice cover (see Plate A), surrounding tundra land areas, the Greenland Ice Sheet and numerous smaller ice-caps in Arctic Canada, Svalbard and the Siberian Arctic Islands. In contrast, the south polar region is occupied by the Antarctic continent, with an ice plateau 3 to 4 km high, floating ice shelves in the Ross Sea and Weddell Sea embayments, and surrounded by a seasonally ice-covered ocean. Accordingly, the Arctic and Antarctic are treated separately.

Continue reading here: A The Arctic

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