As planet earth lies on an axis, it has two poles that are at the northernmost and southernmost points all through the year. Due to their distance away from the sun, these two poles are also the coldest parts of the earth, and spend the majority of the year completely frozen into what’s better known as the Polar Ice Caps.
The Polar Ice Caps do experience seasons, but they are very different to the ones that we are used to. During summer, the days continue into the night, with the sun never setting and darkness never arriving. During this season a large amount of the polar ice caps melt, only to freeze again when it turns to winter. Of course, during winter, there are no ‘days’ but only dark night for months on end. There are some areas of Iceland, near the polar ice caps, that experience these seasons and are also inhabited by people. It’s these areas, such as the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, that are the best places to visit if you want to see the polar ice caps in person. You can even visit the lagoons which have hot springs, warm enough to bathe in.
Outside of these particular areas, however, the polar ice caps are uninhabitable. It’s only on their outskirts that peoples such as Inuits have set up their homes. The hostile weather, extreme temperatures below 0 and lack of vegetation makes it very difficult to sustain a family there.
The polar ice caps have been present on earth for many millions of years and were most certainly not built by man. The north pole has an average temperature of -34° Fahrenheit, while the south pole is generally much colder.
The polar ice caps have, for years, been a central part of keeping the earth cool. They don’t do this by being cool directly, but instead by their ice reflecting the sun’s rays away from the earth’s surface. Now that they are melting increasingly fast, they are losing this ability to stop the sun’s rays from warming up the earth, and as a result global warming is perpetuated.
NASA have been monitoring the ice caps since the 1970s, and have found that they are melting fast. There is a specific type of ice that stays frozen all year round, known as ‘perennial ice’ and between 1980 and 2000 the amount of this ice has reduced by 20%. The future for the polar ice caps looks bleak, depending on how global warming progresses over the next few decades. While little ma happen before 2050, we could be seeing increasing numbers of floods, tsunamis and much heavier precipitation.
How to Get There:
Reykjavik has its own airport, where Icelandair flights regularly go to and from the city. From the east coast of America this should take no longer than six hours.
From Reykjavik airport you can then fly by helicopter to various destinations, including Jokulsarlon lagoons with their hot springs, but you should be aware that this is the most expensive way to travel. There are also several buses and train services running to and from the airport, and you can visit central Reykjavik to do some sight seeing via bus, too. For direct transport to your accommodation, try one of the many taxis that wait at the airport.
Where to Stay:
Hotel Reykjavik Centrum is a high class hotel right in the center of the city. Here you’ll find luxury rooms, at around $250 per night. This is, of course, the most expensive option and many visitors will prefer to keep to a more modest budget. If this is the case then you may wish to try the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica where rooms are around $140 per night.
The best budget option for good quality hotel accommodation in Reykjavik are the Castle House Luxury Apartments, which cost around $77 per night. This hotel also has free high speed Internet.