Why is the South Pole so much colder than the North Pole?



So, Antarctica is basically a horrific wasteland where it regularly reaches minus 70 degrees Celsius and where nothing can live except some penguins on the northern sealine. In contrast, the Arctic is pretty cold, at around minus 40. But 30 degrees is a massive difference, and they both get the same amount of sunlight.

So why is the coldest part of Antarctica so much colder than the coldest part of the Arctic?

In: Earth Science

Being near water, even cold-ass water, moderates your temperature a bit. Cities next to the ocean usually don’t get ultra-hot summers or ultra-cold winters. In the desert, with no water to smooth things out, you broil all day and freeze all night.

The north pole is actually over the Arctic Ocean; when you’re standing there you’re standing on ice with 0^(o)C water underneath. But the south pole is in the middle of a continent, a couple thousand miles from water. Makes a difference.

There are ocean currents under the ice in the arctic which mixes the cold water in the Arctic ocean with warmer water from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. However the South Pole is located in the continent of Antarctica. And even though there are huge fjords and islands the glaciers displaces all the sea water forming a thick layer of ice all the way out to sea. So there are no ocean currents mixing the water on the continent with the water in the oceans.

Another factor is that the ice cap on Antarctica is pretty tall making an artificial platau of ice that only a few mountains stick out of. This means that even though the Amundsen-Scott station is near what would have been coastline in a fjord if it was not for the ice the station is still at an elevation of about 2800m and dropping. Higher elevations means lower pressures which means lower temperatures.

Two things i know of:

– North pole sits on water. Water is a great heat buffer (heats up in summer and gives off heat in winter) and conductor (streams like the gulf stream transport warm water to the pole). South pole sits on land.

– the south pole is a mountain-plateau (e.g. the geographic south pole is at an elevation of ~2800m). At that height things would be pretty cold even in temperate regions.

Might be more reasons ofc.

Unlike Arctic, Antarctica do not surrounded by big land masses. As a result Antarctica surrounded by cold air and water currents, created in planet rotation. This currents prevent warm air and water from tropical latitudes from reaching this continent.

Another thing not pointed out yet is that there is a complete ring of ocean without land between Antarctica and the other continents, whereas Asia, N. America and Europe break up this ring in the Arctic. Having that unbroken ring means there is a fast current going all the way around Antarctica, blocking warmer water from the north from getting to the continent. A similar thing happens with air currents.