Comparing the Arctic and Antarctic

Poles difference whoi- Contributed by PEI member Megan Gunderson, Dillingham, Alaska

I want you to escape your current adult body for a minute, and think back to your childhood. How did you learn about the polar regions? Personally, it was never really covered in school that I can recall. Most of what I knew about Antarctica came from watching The Pebble and the Penguin, and most of what I knew about the Arctic included Santa Claus.  My understanding of the difference between Arctic and Antarctic was piecemealed over the years by my own developing brain, which often made incorrect assumptions based on poor information and child logic.  To further confuse the issue for kids, mass marketing continues to print advertising and packaging that includes penguins and polar bears inhabiting the same icy area.

Common misconceptions concerning polar region comparison:

  • Polar bears and penguins occupy the same habitat.
  • Both poles are similar in temperature.
  • Both the Arctic and Antarctic are solid ice, with snow on top.
  • Antarctica is quite a small continent that nobody can visit.
  • Humans cannot live in the Arctic.
  • Polar oceans are too cold for most life.


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Which type of polar ice melt increases sea level?

AVdP ice shelf edge 760x360- Contributed by PEI member Megan Gunderson, Dillingham, Alaska

The melting polar ice issue is ubiquitous; even kindergarteners have heard about it. However, most people (both child and adult alike) are not aware of the difference between sea ice and land ice melt, or even that there is a very important distinction between two as it concerns sea level rise.  

The best way to present this to students is through a demonstration, or better yet let them team up and do the experiments themselves!  Run them through the scientific process (the classroom teacher will adore you for this).  Ask them to make predictions, document observations, and finally explain the results.  For grades 4-8, Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) has a great experiment with printables all ready for you to use!  Younger students could do this experiment as well, but will need you to walk them through the directions more explicitly (some of those little guys can’t read, but they can understand the science concept you want to convey!).

Most of the lessons online are written or funded by polar science organizations.  In a fun twist, the Everglades National Park in Florida has published its own lesson on Antarctic ice melt.  It actually does makes sense that they are seeking to educate the public about increased polar ice melt . . . they have the most to lose in from an increase in sea level!  Check out their lesson and materials at Sea Level Change: Climate Change on the NPS Everglades website.

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Antarctic or Antarctica? An online course designed for elementary school teachers who speak Portuguese

- contributed by Silvia Dotta

Portuguese course SilviaThis online course is a forty hour distance learning course and is designed for elementary school teachers who speak Portuguese. There are two synchronous classes, and all mediated by Moodle, and should be finished in ten weeks. It is structured in 4 modules (Ice, Convergence, Environment and Life) and is composed by texts, video lessons, puzzles, images, etc.. All the teaching materials were prepared in an accessible language for different audiences and can be used by teachers to teach their classes as well as other educators. The course participants have to perform some learning activities: discussion forums, sharing news about Antarctica through Facebook, create didactical sequences, create a Polar Project that will be performed in the classroom of teacher students, and after the project takes place, the course participants must present an experience report.

Registration is FREE and the deadline is August 21. Classes begin on September 25th. For more information contact Silvia Dotta or visit the course website.

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Adélie penguins film their underwater world

JBThiebot movie- Contributed by Jean-Baptiste Thiebot, Yan Ropert-Coudert and Akinori Takahashi

Adélie penguins in Eastern Antarctica have starred in a few short videos, thanks to the help of some researchers working with them during the breeding season 2014-2015. The video clip shows footage obtained from video data loggers attached onto free-ranging Adélie penguins at Dumont d'Urville station, Adélie Land. Commuting, exploring and feeding behaviour can be seen from the footage.

The work was carried out through a collaboration between CNRS, France, and the National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Japan. The French Polar Institute IPEV provided logistics and support through Program 1091 l'AMMER. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also supported the research and made the final edit of the video clip.


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Video: A Little Story About Climate Change

Little story climate changeThe three-minute story of 800,000 years of climate change with a sting in the tail

- Ben Henley and Nerilie Abram, Source: The Conversation

"There are those who say the climate has always changed, and that carbon dioxide levels have always fluctuated. That’s true. But it’s also true that since the industrial revolution, CO₂ levels in the atmosphere have climbed to levels that are unprecedented over hundreds of millennia.

So here’s a short video we made, to put recent climate change and carbon dioxide emissions into the context of the past 800,000 years." 

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Video: Take Aim on Climate Change

take aim climate changeAn upbeat invitation to "Take AIM at Climate Change" - with "AIM" standing for Adapt, Innovate, Mitigate. The lyrics are based on the latest science (in 2009) of Earth's changing climate, with the music a mix of rap and pop. Four verses connect changes in the Arctic and Antarctic to conditions around the planet, with choruses encouraging long-term thinking, and individual and community action. Optimistic, forward-thinking, but now's the time to act. "Yes we can!" take AIM at climate change. Download the video or audio versions at to iPods or iPhones, and share with friends. This video was produced by the Polar Polooza Project during the International Polar Year. An oldie, but a goodie.


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Video: Cruise Cruise Baby

cruise cruise babyLife as a marine biologist, based on five years of monthly cruises in the Gulf of Maine, set to "Ice Ice Baby". Lyrics and video by Chris Manning. Another oldie, but a goodie!




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Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies

PCAS 2017 posterThe Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies (PCAS) is a 14-week, in‐depth, multi‐disciplinary programme of study that critically examines contemporary scientific, environmental, social and political debates focused on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Jointly developed by the University of Canterbury and Antarctica New Zealand, this unique summer programme is the only programme in the world to take students to experience life in the Antarctic – at Scott Base, New Zealand’s station on Ross Island, and at a field campsite on the Ross Ice Shelf.  The 10-day visit to Antarctica is supported by Antarctica New Zealand, and participants undertake a mix of analytical and interpretive field projects and environmental monitoring projects in the vicinity of Scott Base.
The programme provides a unique Antarctic experience that is valuable for:

  • Future Antarctic researchers;
  • Employees and managers within National Antarctic Programmes;
  • Employees within government agencies involved in Antarctic policy or environmental management;
  • School teachers and university lecturers; and
  • Antarctic enthusiasts.

The programme can be used as part of a Master’s Degree.  While the University of Canterbury does not offer scholarships for PCAS, financial support may be available for participants from National Antarctic Programmes and through external funding bodies.
Please note that applications for PCAS close on 1 August 2017.
For further details, please visit the PCAS website.

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If the ice caps melt - Animated map of what Earth would look like

Sea level rises as a result of climate change are predicted to reach 1m or more by the end of the 21st century. The video below shows the impact of all the ice on land melting and draining into the sea.

The largest contribution is from the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which contains over 7 million cubic miles of ice and if it melted completely would lead to a sea level rise of over 50 metres.

Based on the maps produced by the National Geographic in 2013, the video shows the resulting sea level rise as it dramatically reshapes the continents and drowns many of the world's major cities.




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Polar Educators International

PEIFor the past few months our colleagues in Polar Educators International (PEI) have been contributing helpful resources that scientists can use in classrooms and other venues when sharing infomration about their Antarctic research. This month PEI is hosting their International Conference in Rovereto, Italy so we thought it would be a good time to give them a break and tell you more about PEI.

PEI is a vibrant network promoting polar education and research to a global community. By fostering dialogue and collaboration between educators and researchers, PEI aims to highlight and share the global relevance of the polar regions with the broader community.  

PEI is looking for scientists to work with, so take a few minutes and learn more about this important partner.

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