Sunset over sea ice off the coast of Antarctica captured from the Nathaniel B. Palmer, an NSF research icebreaker ship, during an Antarctic oceanography research cruise.
Click on image for full size
NOAA Corp Collection, Photographer Michael Van Woert
The oceans that are in the polar regions are a bit different from other oceans on Earth. There is often sea ice at the surface, especially during the winter months. And those chilly waters are home to some unique marine life.
There are two oceans in Earth's polar regions.
Seawater from polar regions can be denser than seawater from other places. It is denser because it is cold. It can also become saltier than other seawater and that makes it denser too. The denser seawater sinks to the bottom of the ocean. It travels out of the polar regions in slow currents that travel around the bottom of the world’s oceans.
The polar oceans are warming up as Earth’s climate changes. Scientists are studying how the polar oceans, the sea ice at their surface, and the marine life within them, are changing because the Earth is getting warmer. They have found that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is melting. Polar bears and other species rely on the sea ice, so they might be in trouble as sea ice melts. In the Antarctic, scientists are trying to figure out if penguins will be affected as sea ice melts there.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
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!
You might also be interested in:
Sea ice is frozen seawater. It floats on the oceans that are in Earth's polar regions. The salt in the seawater does not freeze. Very salty water gets trapped in the sea ice when it forms. The pockets...more
In the Arctic, 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 North Pole there; both are in the...more
The Southern Ocean is sometimes known as the Antarctic Ocean or South Polar Ocean. It surrounds Antarctica in the South Polar Region. The Southern Ocean is a bit different from other oceans. Other oceans...more
What Will You Find There? If you travel to the South Pole, you will find the continent of Antarctica surrounded by the Southern Ocean. The geographic South Pole is marked by a large sign that scientists...more
Polar bears live in one of our planet’s most extreme environments, the Arctic . They thrive in the freezing cold. But because of global warming, polar bears might be in trouble. Scientists are studying...more
Polar exploration includes the exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctic. The Arctic is the area around the Earth's north pole. Antarctica is a continent that surrounds the South Pole. When you think...more
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. It is about one and a half times the size of the United States. Almost all of Antarctica is covered with a thick layer of ice called...more