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An Emperor Penguin dives into the ocean through a hole in the ice.
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Image courtesy of Emily Stone, National Science Foundation

Life in the Polar Regions: Animals, Plants, and Others in Extreme Environments

All sorts of living things call Earth’s polar regions home – from tiny lichens of the Arctic tundra to huge blue whales swimming through the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean. Some animals are live near the poles during the warmer summers. Others live near the poles year-round.

The Arctic tundra is home to many different plants and animals. A large amount of the land in the north polar region is part of Earth’s tundra biome. South of the Arctic tundra, where temperatures are a little less cold, are the vast forests of conifer trees of the taiga biome. North of the Arctic tundra are polar bears and the unique marine life in the Arctic Ocean.

the continent of Antarctica is in the south polar region. Most of this land is covered with a thick layer of ice. It is hard to find any living things in these ice-covered areas. Not many animals and plants can live there. There are many species of penguins in the south polar region. Almost all animals in Antarctica find their food in the Southern Ocean that surrounds the continent. There is lots of marine life in the Southern Ocean.
Last modified November 12, 2010 by Jennifer Bergman.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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