Located almost 20,000 kilometers from each other, the regions of the South Pole and the North Pole show three series of differences.
Antarctica is a continent, as big as 27 times the size of France with mountains that peak at an altitude of 4897 meters and covered with an ice cap with an average thickness of 1700 meters. The South Pole is at an altitude of 2,835 meters.
The Arctic is a sea, the Arctic Icy Ocean, a kind of Polar Mediterranean. The North Pole is located on the sea covered by a moving mantle of 1 to 4 meters of sea ice with sea depths of 3100 to 5000 meters. Although the cold can be extreme there, the sea softens the climate of Spitsbergen, the west coast of Greenland and the Bering Strait.
The Arctic is surrounded by land and therefore rich in a variety of terrestrial fauna and flora: polar foxes, caribou, musk oxen, owl owls, geese … inhabit the tundra. The polar bear reigns supreme on the ice floe.
Antarctica could not be colonized by mammals, because the Antarctic continent was too far away from other lands when the species arrived on earth. On the other hand, Antarctica has become an extraordinary refuge for marine fauna. Its beaches abound in sea lions, seals, elephant seals, penguins and its coasts are populated by cetaceans.
Antarctica (from anti-arktos, opposite the Big Dipper indicating the North, therefore the Arctic), appears on the maps as a quasi-circular continent of about 4,500 km in diameter (the distance Paris-Baghdad), larger than the United States or Mexico combined, i.e. 25 times the surface of France (14 million km2). This icy “end of the world” is completely isolated from other lands. It is 1,000 km from South America, 2,500 km from Australia and 4,000 km from Africa.
It is thanks to satellites equipped with radars that we were able for the first time to trace the topography of this continent and understand that under these 2.3 km of average thickness of ice, there are mountains, canyons, and even lakes!