What is the difference between the poles?

South Pole vs North Pole


The earth is not a perfectly round ball – it is slightly flattened at the poles. The radius of the earth at the equator is 6378 km but to the poles is 6357 km. While they share this and many other common points, there are great differences between the two ends of the earth.





Continent surrounded by ocean. South Pole: 283 m. (9,300 ft.) above sea level; bedrock 30 m. (100 ft.) above sea level. A narrow, deep continental shelf and restricted ice-free frozen ground. No tree line and no tundra. No native population


Nearly all (97.6 per cent) land is covered in South Polar ice sheet. Icebergs from glaciers and shelf ice, measured in cubic kilometres. Sea ice is mainly annual, salty, and less than two metres thick.


South Pole mean annual temperature = -58°F.


No terrestrial mammals. Marine mammals are whales and seals. Only 19 bird species between 70°-80° latitude and only lichens at 82° latitude.





Ocean surrounded by continents. North Pole: 1 m. (3 ft). of sea ice; bedrock 427 m. (1,400 ft.) below sea level. Shallow extensive continental shelf and extensive frozen ground. Extensive tree line and well defined tundra. Circumpolar native populations.


Limited land ice (largest is Greenland ice sheet). Icebergs from glaciers, measured in cubic metres. Sea ice is mainly multi-year, has low salinity, and is more than two metres thick.


North Pole mean annual temperature = 0°F


Several terrestrial mammals including reindeer wolf musk ox, hare, lemming, fox. Marine mammals are whales, seals, and polar bears. Some 107 bird species between 75°-80° latitude and 90 species of flowering plants at 82° latitude.

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