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When teaching, it’s always interesting when you teach something that people know a lot about versus when it’s something relatively new.  Using some basic facts quickly reveals what you’re up against.

So if I asked the question, what has more ice the north or the south pole or which would create a largest sea level rise if it melt? 

Before I give you the answer, most people know a little more about the arctic and its polar bears because it’s closer and it gets more press.  The Antarctic is the fringe at the bottom of the globe.  Other than the recent penguin movies, it’s like another planet.  People might know more about Mars than the South Pole.  Besides we know where Santa lives.

Well the real answer is that if the Northern Ice melts sea levels rise just more than 25 feet.  If the Southern ice-melts sea levels rise 210 feet.  Why the difference?  Take a look at these basic facts.

  • Antarctica has almost 9% of the land area in the world

  • Antarctica is the 4th largest continent in the winter and the 5th largest in the summer

  • The Antarctic ice cap has 29 million cubic kilometers of ice. This is 90% of all the ice on the planet and between 60 and 70 % of all of the world’s fresh water.

  • Antarctica is considered a desert because it so cold the air can’t hold much moisture

  • The cold and dry conditions in the “Dry Valleys” region of Antarctica are so close to those on Mars that NASA did testing there for the Viking mission. It has not rained in the dry valleys for at least 2 million years.

  • At the thickest point, the ice is almost 2-1/2 miles deep

  • Antarctica has the lowest recorded temperature; -90°C at Vostock in 1983. Inland, temperatures range from -70°C in winter to -35°C in summer. Corresponding figures for coastal regions are -30°C and 0°C.

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