POLAR THAW: Global Warming in the Arctic and Antarctic (continued)
The poles are poles apart in more ways than one. Antarctica is a continent - the highest, coldest, windiest and driest place on Earth. It is a third larger than the United States and holds nearly 90 percent of the world's fresh water in an ice sheet that is up to 2 miles thick. It is surrounded by an ocean whose currents and layers of cold water are "engines" of global circulation and weather. It is home to millions of marine mammals and sea birds, notably penguins, but has no land animals larger than mites and springtails.
The Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches 900 miles north toward South America, has a more moderate climate than the rest of the continent. Its great seasonal changes provide many benchmarks against which to measure climate shifts.
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