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Headline: What Is Polar Science?

Polar scientists make observations and collect data to answer questions about the Arctic (the north polar region) and the Antarctic (the south polar region). These regions are unique and isolated. However, the Earth is a global system, so all regions are related. We can learn a lot about physical science, life science, and Earth/space science when we study the polar regions.

Scientists observe patterns in nature. They use these observations to create models. These models help us explain, understand, and predict our complex, changing environment. Scientists

  • Make observations and measurements
  • Search for patterns to make sense of observations and predict future events
  • Build models and propose hypotheses
  • Test these models/hypotheses against reality and new information
  • Modify models until they are acceptably consistent with what happens in the real world.

Here are some examples of polar science:

Polar Energy – a report from the Why Files: This site has four articles on polar science, three from the Arctic and one from Antarctica.

The Arctic:

The Arctic Long Term Ecological Research Site at Toolik Lake

Arctic Social Sciences

See this story and others: "Dear Young Girl" – archaeologists discover a grave of a little girl in the permafrost.

The Hidden Ocean--Arctic 2005
In the summer of 2005, scientists participated in a collaborative effort to explore the frigid depths of the Canada Basin, located in the deepest part of the Arctic Ocean. This expedition is named "The Hidden Ocean" because this part of the Arctic Ocean is covered with sea ice for most of the year and thus difficult to reach.

The SHEBA Field Station: a ship frozen in the ice

Antarctica:

Antarctic Ozone Hole Research

The Big Meltdown–the Antarctic conveyor belt

Dive and Discover:  Expedition to Antarctica In this 2006 expedition, scientists used scuba diving and other sampling techniques to study the mysteries of salps—transparent jelly-like creatures that are important to the entire Antarctic food chain.

How Do Fish in Antarctica Keep From Freezing?

Sounds of the Southern Ocean:

The Southern Ocean surrounds Antarctica and serves as a connection between the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.  Much of this ocean basin remains unexplord because of its severe climate.  These researchers are learning about the Southern Ocean by investigating the underwater sounds made by moving ice sheets, large baleen whales, and undersea earthquakes and volcanoes.