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ICE CAP CLIMATE

(most measurements in Fahrenheit and inches... sorry rest of the world)

Ice Cap climate is the most extreme climate on Earth. Temperatures regularly reach -90 during the winter, which also experiences "days" with 24 hours of darkness. The main cause of this climate is latitude. Ice Cap is only found near the North and South Pole. This area receives zero direct sunlight and therefore regular cold temperatures. Despite these extreme conditions, plants and animals have found ways to thrive on land and sea. 

Where is Ice Cap Climate Usually Located?

Ice Cap climate is only located near the poles, but this climate covers nearly 20% of the Earth.  This is the most extreme climate on Earth.  Ice Cap climate is best seen from the maps below, since it is mainly found in Antarctica and the land around the Arctic Ocean, especially Greenland. The maps below show the Earth from the "bottom" and "top". We are used to seeing the Earth from the "side" like the map above that shows where Ice Cap climate is found. The maps below are more accurate.

Northern Hemisphere
This is a pictures of a map of the Northern Hemisphere.
Southern Hemisphere
This is a pictures of a map of the Southern Hemisphere.
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What Seasons Does Ice Cap Climate Have?

Since Ice Cap is located at the poles, it has extreme seasons.  There isn't a traditional summer since the temperatures almost never goes above freezing (32 degrees F).  However, there are 2 different seasons.  The seasons are determined by the amount of light.  During the "summer", there is nearly 24 hours of light, since the pole is pointed toward the sun.  During the "winter" the pole is facing away from the sun, which causes nearly 24 hours of darkness. Because both of these areas only receive indirect sunlight, even 24 hours of sunlight isn't enough to regularly raise the temperature above freezing during summer. You can see Antarctica in the image below in total darkness during Earth's "Winter" position on the right.

Earth's Tilt Creates Seasons
This is a pictures of a the Earth is 4 positions in it's orbit around the sun showing the tilt of the Earth creates seasons.
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What are the Temperatures like in Ice Cap Climate?

Ice Cap is the coldest climate on Earth.  Antarctica is usually colder than the Arctic.  The "warmest" month averages about -16 degrees.  The coldest month averages about -70 degrees!  During the winter, temperatures regularly reach -90 degrees. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -128.6 degrees.  Ice Cap temperatures are so low because of the latitude near the poles.  These areas receive only indirect sunlight, and during winter it doesn't even receive indirect sunlight!   During the winter this area is in total darkness. (see image above).

How Much Precipitation Does Ice Cap Climate Receive?

With all of the ice and snow, you might think Ice Cap receives a lot of precipitation, but it doesn't.  It is too cold to evaporate the water, so the humidity is low. Low humidity means there isn't as much water in the air, which creates precipitation (snow).  In fact, Ice Cap averages less than 10 inches of precipitation, so technically Ice Cap is a desert--for this reason climatologist (people who study climate) call Antarctica a "polar desert".

What Kinds of Vegetation (Plants) Does Ice Cap Climate Have?

Most traditional plants can not grow in this harsh climate.  However, in some areas not completely covered in glacier, there is plant life such as moss and lichen--lichen is a mixture of a fungus and algae.

Lichen
This is a picture of lichen growing on a rock.
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What Kinds of Animals Does Ice Cap Climate Have?

Most people are familiar with Penguins in the South Pole and Polar Bears near the North Pole, but there are other animals in the harsh environment.  Many other birds such as the Albatross make frequent stops in these areas. Seals are another animal that survive Ice Cap climate.

Polar Bear
This is a picture of a polar bear on the ice.
Baby Penguin
This is a picture of a baby penguin.
Albatross
This is a picture of a albatross flying over the water.
Seal
This is a picture of a seal laying on the ice.
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Lichen

This is a picture of lichen growing on a rock.