Polar science comes in nearly every scientific flavor. Scientists study everything from geologic history to predictions of future climate change, from the genetic adaptations of organisms in extreme environments to how ecosystems and Arctic people respond to global warming. Astrophysicists use powerful telescopes to peer back to the early universe, and they use satellites to study current solar storms that create beautiful auroras in polar skies. Glaciologists measure the ways that ice sheets grow, shrink, and move over time, gathering data to help them predict how ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will behave in the future. Biologists study polar bears, tundra plants, whales, penguins, ice fish, krill, and other species to understand how they adapt to their icy environment and to help devise management strategies to help them survive with a climate that is warming faster at the poles than anywhere else on earth.
Many polar regions are experiencing global warming at twice the rate of other places on earth
There's more to polar ice caps than just frozen water
Astronomy in Antarctica
What makes Antarctica inhospitable to life also makes it ideal for astronomy.
Remote sensing allows geologists to peek under the ice—and find a big surprise.
International Polar Years
Four times over 100-plus years, major initiatives have brought together scientists from around the globe to collaboratively study the poles.
The lure of Terra Australis Incognita begins with the Ancient Greeks and ends with modern cruise ships.
Antarctic Marine Ecosystem
The Antarctic food web is the simplest on the planet, and krill are at its hub.
Tundra and Permafrost
The frozen soils of the Arctic
Heat-trapping gases and their role in polar climate change
Ice and Sediment Cores
Scientists dig under the surface for clues to past climate
Darkening polar skies often bring beautiful light displays
The People of the Arctic
The far north is home to 4 million people in eight countries
Pairing Scientific and Traditional Knowledge
Collaborations between scientists and indigenous people are providing a more complete picture of the Arctic
White-coated Arctic icons, these supreme hunters are under threat
Giants of the polar seas
The frozen worlds of the Arctic and Antarctica
"Mac Town," the first stop for many scientists in Antarctica, is the same as any town—only different.
The South Pole(s)
Will the “real” South Pole please stand up?
The nearly ice-free Dry Valleys are an Antarctic anomaly, and Earth's closest equivalent to Mars.
Living along the continental coastline are the emperors and the Adélies.
Humpbacks, minkes, and orcas are often sighted in the nutrient-rich Antarctic waters.
Crabeaters have extraordinary teeth, Weddells are downright cute, and leopards are as fierce as their namesake
Huge swarms of tiny drifters that feed polar ecosystems
Census of Marine Life
Exploring the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans
They're a menace to ships, but life thrives in these frozen oases.
Land of ice and people
Northern outpost of science and traditional life
The Iñupiaq People of Barrow, Alaska
The majority of Barrow residents are indigenous people who live both traditional and modern lives
Summertime in the Arctic is for the birds
These uniqueand uniquely beautifulseal species spend their lives amid the sea ice