Antarctica & The Arctic

From a scientific point of view the word 'Antarctica' is applied to the oceanographic and biological boundary formed by the Antarctic convergence, which is the natural boundary between the relatively warm subantarctic surface water and the cold Antarctic surface water.

More generally 'The Antarctic' means the continent of Antarctica, with its surrounding ice shelves, islands and seas. It is the fifth largest continent, and largest wilderness area on earth. Most of its area is made up of a vast permanent ice sheet, with only about two percent of the total land mass visible as mountains and coastlines. South Georgia is an island situated within the Antarctic convergence, which is home to millions of penguins. We visited the island and the Antarctic peninsular in 2010.

At its most northern point, the Arctic polar region consists of a vast ice-covered ocean. Further south and still within the Arctic Circle are various land masses including Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, and Svalbard.

Svalbard is the most northerly place in the world with a permanent population. Some 60% is covered with glaciers, and the islands feature many rugged mountains and fjords. The fragile, natural environment is largely untouched, hence the flora is fascinating, and the region is a fine breeding ground for many seabirds, as well as polar bears, reindeer, arctic fox, and walrus. We spent 9 days exploring this beautiful area in mid 2014.