Climate Change in Antarctica: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Learn about Antarctica, the continent at the South Pole, and how people are changing the weather there. Climate change affects penguins, fish, and other animals that live in Antarctica.

Antarctica and Climate Change

When Santa leaves the North Pole, he has to bundle up. He has reindeer to pull his sleigh because reindeer are happy to live in the cold and the snow. But do know what place is even colder than the North Pole? Antarctica.

Antarctica: bring your snowsuit.

Antarctica is the continent at the South Pole, at the bottom of the globe. It's very cold down there and most of Antarctica is covered with ice and snow. In fact, about 90% of the ice on the whole Earth is in Antarctica. Antarctica is surrounded by a very cold ocean called the Southern Ocean.

Climate Change

Today, Antarctica is changing because of climate change. Climate change is what happens when people's actions affect the Earth's atmosphere.

For example, most people don't fly around on sleighs. Instead, we get around in cars. The exhaust from all those cars is full of chemicals that go up into the air. Some of those chemicals trap heat close to the Earth and make the whole planet warmer. That's climate change. Climate change doesn't just mean one day of hot weather. It means that everything is hotter over many, many years.

Because Antarctica is one of the places on Earth where climate change is happening the fastest, scientists can use the continent to study the effects of climate change.

Melting Glaciers

The ice on the continent of Antarctica isn't supposed to melt. But climate change is making the ice and snow in Antarctica melt a little bit more every year.

There are big masses of ice called glaciers in Antarctica. When the glaciers melt, the water goes into the Southern Ocean. This makes the water level rise a little bit every year because there's more water in the ocean.

Rising sea levels are dangerous because a lot of people live near the ocean. If the sea levels keeps rising, places near the coasts all over the world, like Venice, Italy, and Miami, Florida, will be underwater.

Melting ice also affects the animals that live in Antarctica. For example, penguins live on the ice in Antarctica. But now the ice is melting and the penguins have to move to different places. The melting ice is changing the way animals live in Antarctica.

Penguins are happy to live in the cold in Antarctica.

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