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What's it like at the poles?

The icy waters off Antarctica, the home of the emperor penguinThe North Pole lies not on land but in the ocean: the Arctic Ocean. It is permanently covered by ice, although the size of the ice cap shrinks in summer months as the ice melts. The South Pole lies on the continent of Antarctica. This huge, mountainous landmass is mostly covered by an ice sheet all year round. 



An icebreaker carves a passage through pack ice in the Arctic Ocean. A map of the Arctic Ocean. Some of it is covered by ice all year round.The North Pole lies on a floating sheet of ice, 2–3 metres (6–10 feet) thick, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. In winter, pack ice forms around the edges of the ice cap. These are slabs of ice that are constantly being broken up and crushed together by the movement of the water underneath. Greenland is mostly covered with ice throughout the year.
The Southern Ocean surrounds the continent of Antarctica. Further north, it merges with the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.


If Greenland’s ice cap were to melt completely, the world’s sea level would rise by more than 7 metres (23 feet).

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