Iceberg A68 is seen from space. It is the size of the state of Maryland! (NASA)

Iceberg A68 is seen from space. It is the size of the state of Maryland! (NASA)

An Iñnupiat Eskimo looks out at snowfields in Alaska. Many native people live in the Arctic. Antarctica has never had any native people living there. (AP)

An Iñnupiat Eskimo looks out at snowfields in Alaska. Many native people live in the Arctic. Antarctica has never had any native people living there. (AP)

The Arctic has lots of large animal life, like this polar bear. The largest animal that lives in the Antarctic is a tiny midge. (AP)

The Arctic has lots of large animal life, like this polar bear. The largest animal that lives in the Antarctic is a tiny midge. (AP)

The “midnight sun” shines in the Antarctic.

The “midnight sun” shines in the Antarctic.

Left: Looking down at the top of the world, the North Pole, the Arctic. Right: Looking up at the bottom of the world, the South Pole, the Antarctic.

Left: Looking down at the top of the world, the North Pole, the Arctic. Right: Looking up at the bottom of the world, the South Pole, the Antarctic.

Iceberg on the Move

Posted: September 3, 2019

You might not get trapped in ice. But you could get bumped—big time—by a very large iceberg!

“A68” is one of the largest icebergs now floating in the world’s oceans. It broke away from Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf two years ago. Glacier expert Adrian Luckman has followed satellite records that show the movement of A68. It didn’t move for more than a year. Now it has rotated away from the ice shelf and is drifting north.

Being trapped in ice or dodging drifting icebergs is some cool cold news. The North and South Poles are cold and sometimes dark because neither one ever gets any direct sunlight. But they are at the opposite ends of the Earth. How can you know which is which? Never fear, WORLDKidsExplorer! With this handy guide, you’ll never be confused about where you are.

Sea or Land?

• The Arctic Sea is covered with ice about three feet thick. Six countries border it: Canada, the United States (Alaska), Denmark (Greenland), Russia, Norway, and Iceland.

• Antarctica is an ice-covered continent. Snow that never melts and builds up over time has made the ice about 9,000 feet thick.

Light or Dark?

• Both Poles have five months of daylight, a month of twilight, five months of darkness, then a month of twilight before the cycle begins again.

• The Arctic Sun is always above the horizon from mid-March until mid-September. The brightest day is June 21st. The Sun is always below the Arctic horizon from September to March. Winter is dark.

• Times of light and dark are just the opposite at the South Pole. The middle of winter is June 21stand the middle of summer is December 21stin Antarctica.

Cold or Colder?

• Arctic Sea ice is surrounded by land. Land holds heat. So the Arctic’s winter temperatures usually dip no lower than -45° F.

• Antarctica is the highest of all continents. Temperatures drop the higher you go. So the South Pole’s winter temperatures can hit -80° F. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica on July 21, 1983. It dropped to -128.6° F.

Animals?

• Reindeer, musk ox, and polar bears wander the Arctic. Walruses, seals, and some whales live in the water.

• The largest land animal at the South Pole is an insect—the wingless midge! However, a great many animals feed at sea and come to land for at least part of their lives. These include penguins of all kinds, seals, and albatrosses.

Humans?

• Many native people live in the Arctic. Most are nomads, like reindeer herders. Over four million people live permanently in the Arctic.

• Antarctica has never had any native people living there. The first person to set foot on Antarctica did so in 1898. About 1,000 people work at scientific stations through the winter. No one lives there all the time. It is way too cold!