What Kind of Weather Conditions Do Polar Regions Have?

While Earth's polar regions are known for their pristine beauty, their climates tend to make them a little less inviting. From fierce winds to blinding blizzards, weather conditions in the polar caps make these regions some of the most inhospitable on the planet.

  1. Temperatures

    • Average temperatures in the polar regions almost never go above the freezing point, even in the summer season, making these areas the coldest places on Earth. Both polar regions feature vast stretches of snow and ice that reflect the sun's rays, instead of absorbing it's heat, which helps to maintain the freezing temperatures. The Antarctica is also higher and drier than any other continent in the world, and the elevation and aridity contribute to the extreme temperatures of the region. According to National Geographic, the coldest recorded temperature was -129 degrees Fahrenheit, in Vostok, Antarctica.

    Precipitation

    • Snow makes up the majority of the precipitation in the polar regions, but the poles are fairly arid and do not receive significant amounts of snow in a year. In fact, The Columbia Encyclopedia states that annual precipitation is less than 10 inches in Antarctica and 20 inches in the Arctic region. The snowfall tends to be heavier in the coastal areas where the oceans help to create slightly warmer temperatures than in the interior areas of the poles.

    Winds and Storms

    • Both poles experience heavy winds, but the effects are different in each region. In Antarctica, fast winds and numerous blizzards create a phenomenon known as a whiteout, in which the sky and the snow on the ground visually blend together. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, a different type of optical illusion is created in the Arctic polar region, where the winds blow snow off the ground but it appears as snow falling.

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References

  • Photo Credit Theo Allofs/Photodisc/Getty Images

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