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McMurdo, Crary Lab center left, slope of Ob Hill in background. Photo taken in November 2003.
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Exploration of the Poles of the Earth

Polar exploration includes the physical exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctica. The Arctic is the area around the Earth's north pole and includes parts of Canada, Greenland, Russia, the United States (Alaska), Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Arctic Ocean. Antarctica is the southernmost continent or the area around the south pole.

Humans have always been driven to explore the unknown. Because of their extreme weather and dangerous oceans to cross, the polar regions of the Earth proved to be hard places to reach. Though exploration of these regions has been going on since B.C. times, it wasn't until the last 100 years that many remote places were reached. Obviously, much exploration and study is yet to be done as permanent living stations and expeditions continue into the 21st century. Please choose any of the following links to explore more yourself!

Last modified June 18, 2007 by Lisa Gardiner.

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The Winter 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, focuses on Earth System science, including articles on student inquiry, differentiated instruction, geomorphic concepts, the rock cycle, and much more!

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The Arctic: Earth's North Polar Region

North of the Arctic Circle (at 66.5N latitude) you will find the Arctic Ocean surrounded by the continents of Europe, Asia, and North America. You will find the geographic North Pole and the magnetic...more

The Antarctic Region

What Will You Find There? South of the Antarctic Circle (at 66.5S latitude) you will find the continent of Antarctica surrounded by the Southern Ocean, the geographic South Pole and the magnetic South...more

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Antarctic Weather

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Ocean Gyres

A gyre is another name for a swirling vortex. Ocean gyres are large swirling bodies of water that are often on the scale of a whole ocean basin or 1000s of kilometers across (hundreds to thousands of...more

Earth's Magnetic Poles

Earth has a magnetic field. If you imagine a gigantic bar magnet inside of Earth, you'll have a pretty good idea what Earth's magnetic field is shaped like. Of course, Earth DOESN'T have a giant bar magnet...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA