There are two the coldest regions on the Earth: Arctic - the North Pole, and Antarctic - the South Pole. These two areas are considered to be the representatives of the polar climate zone and polar biome. The South and North Poles are the territories of unique, unimaginable and peculiar nature and beauty. They captivate with their soothing and exciting serenity.
The North Polar Region includes the ice-covered Arctic Ocean, the Greenland continent and much of Northern Canada and Northern Siberia. The South Pole is the vast mountainous continent of Antarctic.
The Polar Regions are perpetually covered by snow and ice throughout the year. Because of the high latitude of these regions, the Sun is never high enough to produce melting. So over the hundreds and thousands of years thick ice sheets have been gradually accumulated. For today we have ice sheets that are several kilometers thick. The ice sheets in the South Pole are much larger than in the North Pole. The South Pole ice sheets cover the entire continent of Antarctic. In the North by contrast, ice sheets are concentrated mainly in Greenland.
Most of the Arctic Circle surrounding the North Pole is ocean, and the seawater freezes to form sea ice, rarely more than a few tens of meters thick. The temperature in these regions rarely rises above freezing. The extreme fall of temperature (-88°C) can be observed during the long polar nights, which last six months. Low content of moisture in the Polar Regions air is caused by the descending air masses. Polar climates can be as dry as the hot deserts.
Before talking about the polar biome let's find out what it is. Biome is a regional ecosystem that is characterized by distinct types of vegetation, animals, and microbes that have developed under specific soil and climatic conditions. The Polar biome is characterized by very low temperatures throughout the year, with the permanent presence of snow and ice. Such climatic conditions exclude the possibility for the development of considerable number of terrestrial vegetation. This lack of terrestrial greenery is the cause of very low diversity in the polar biome.
The Polar biome of the North Pole - Arctic - is developed as marine pack ice, formed over rather diverse marine communities. Such climatic conditions enable the existence of more than 20 species of land animals in the Arctic, including the squirrel, wolf, fox, moose, caribou, reindeer, polar bear, musk ox, and about six species of aquatic mammals such as the walrus, seal, and whale. Most of the species are year-round inhabitants of the Arctic. There is a great variety of fish in arctic seas, rivers, and lakes. The Arctic's bird population increases tremendously each spring with the arrival of migratory birds.
As for the vegetation, it's limited to regions having a tundra climate. Here can be observed dwarf trees and different grasses (mainly mosses, lichen, sedges, and some flowering plants.
In contrast, the polar biome of the South Pole or Antarctic consists of ice developed on the continent of Antarctica. Ice shelves along the continental margin can support communities made up largely of birds such as penguins. There are only six species of penguin in the Antarctic continent. Except penguins there are a considerable number of other birds such as stormy petrels, petrels, skuas, albatrosses, seagulls, terns, cormorants and snowy sheatbills.
While penguins may migrate inland for some distances to lay their eggs in areas where predator diversity is extremely low (usually other birds), the interior of Antarctica has the lowest biodiversity of any terrestrial biome and is essentially devoid of complex life forms. The Antarctic fauna is supplemented with the marine mammals. There are five species of proper seals inhabit the Antarctic.
The flora of Antarctic is extremely poor. It is represented by two flowering plants that are found only on the Antarctic Peninsula: Antarctic hairgrass and the pearlwort. Lichen (about 300 species), moss (about 100 species) and algae are slightly more abundant.
Being rather limited, the polar biome is still unique and attractive.