A WeatherTalk piece Tuesday mentioned that Antarctica is thought to have been glaciated for the past 34 million years while Arctic Sea ice is only around 2.7 million years old. Several people wrote, asking why Antarctica is so much colder.

The answer is elevation.

Arctic ice is only the frozen ocean surface, with an average depth of about 5 to 15 feet. Antarctica, on the other hand, is a mountainous land mass larger than Europe, with an average altitude of 8,000 feet above sea level.

The South Pole is on a glacier at an altitude of 9,301 feet above sea level. Temperatures there this past week have been in the minus 70s with a steady 10-15 mph wind, producing a wind chill index in the minus 110s.

the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was at the Russian scientific station at Vostok, Antarctica. It was minus 128.6° on July 21, 1983.