penguins

North Pole vs South Pole

The North Pole (the Arctic) and the South Pole (the Antarctic) are both extremely cold. But which is colder?

Neither one gets any direct sunlight because the sun sits low on the horizon, even in the middle of the summer. And in the winter, the sun doesn’t come up at all, a bit like permanent nighttime –– six months of permanent nighttime.

The answer to which is colder? The South Pole. Why? The ocean at the North Pole is surrounded by land, creating a slightly warmer environment than the environment at the South Pole, which is land surrounded by ocean. In addition, the South Pole is dry and higher in elevation — and the higher you go, the colder it gets. And probably the coldest detail of all is that the South Pole sits on 9,000 feet of ice. Yes, ice.

The average temperatures at the poles? The summer is a balmy 32 degrees Fahrenheit at the North Pole and minus 18 at the South Pole. In the winter, it’s minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit at the North Pole and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit at the South Pole. That’s cold.

[Pictured above is summertime in Antarctica and a penguin colony full of babies. Fact: Penguins live at the South Pole and polar bears at the North Pole.]

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