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Name: Kathy W.
Status: Educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: February 2001

My class would like to know the basic differences between the Arctic Circle and Antarctica.

The term "arctic" refers to the North Pole. The term "Antarctic" refers to the South Pole -- as in "anti-arctic".

Vince Calder


The Antarctic is a continent that just happens to be at the south pole. There are ice sheets that extend out from the continent, making it appear larger than the actual land area.

The area inside the Arctic Circle is a bit different because much of that area is not composed of land, but of sea water and thick ice. The Arctic is virtually flat, whereas Antarctica has an unbelievable variety of relief, including some large mountain ranges.

These differences between the Arctic and Antarctica result in some different weather at the two locations, with Antarctica being somewhat colder than the Arctic (the ice in the Arctic keeps it a bit warmer) and often much windier, especially at the higher elevations.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory

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