Ice Cap

Ice Cap Climate Type
(all measurement in Fahrenheit and inches... sorry rest of the world)

Where is it 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.

 Southern Hemisphere
(centered on South Pole)

 Northern Hemisphere
(centered on North Pole)

What Seasons Does it Have?

Since Ice Cap is at the poles, it has extreme seasons.  There isn't a traditional summer since the temperatures almost never go above freezing.  However, there are 2 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. 

 Light Exposure During "Seasons"

What are the Temperatures like?
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 its 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 it 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, so there isn't water in the air to create precipitation (snow).  In fact, Ice Cap averages less than 10 inches of precipitation, so technically it is a desert--for this reason climatologist (people who study climate) call Antarctica a "polar desert". 

What Kinds of Vegetation (Plants) Does it Have?
Most traditional plants can not grow in this harsh climate.  However, in some areas there is plant life such as moss and lichen--lichen is a mixture of a fungus and algae. 


What Kind of Animals Does it Usually 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.