Tuesday, 19th June 2018
19 June 2018
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Arctic Ocean

Arctic Ocean

Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s five major oceans. The International Hydrographic Organization recognizes it as an ocean, although some oceanographers call it the Arctic.

Area: 14.06 million km²

Islands: Amsterdam Island, Greenland Island, Monumental Island, Hyde Parker Island, Hudson Island, Shoe Island, Crescent Island

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The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and the shallowest of the world’s five major oceans. It is located in the Northern Hemisphere and is almost completely surrounded by North America and Eurasia, including the countries of Russia, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the United States. The Arctic Ocean is almost completely covered by ice in the winter and remains partially covered in ice throughout the entire year. The first person to cross the Arctic Ocean by boat was Fridtjof Nansen in 1896. It wasn’t until 1969 that the first surface crossing of the Arctic Ocean was made, by dog sled.

Origin Arctic Ocean

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In the Cenozoic Era, the tectonic history of the Arctic basin which can be considered about 65 million years ago was largely known from available geophysical data. It is very specific from aeromagnetic and seismic data that the Eurasia Basin was formed by seafloor spreading along the axis of the Nansen-Gakkel Ridge. The present Lomonosov Ridge was formed due to the focus on spreading under the edge of the Asian continent from which a narrow splinter of the northern continental which was ultimately separated and even translated northward.

The origin of the Amerasia is not yet clear as such. According to the famous researchers, they favor a hypothesis which indicates an opening by rotation of the Arctic-Alaska lithospheric plate away from the North American plate during the Cretaceous Period which is about 145 to 165 million years ago as such. In order to understand the basic origin of the Arctic Ocean’s basins and the ridges is actually a critical combination of reconstructing the paleoclimatic evolution of the ocean and even for the understanding its relevance in relation to the global environmental changes which are occurring off lately.The Oceanography of the Arctic Ocean includes water flow and sea ice which are the two significant characteristics occurrences in this area which accumulates most of the solution and problems as such. 

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In the larger parts of the Arctic Ocean, the top layer of about 50m is acquired with low level of salinity and even low temperature than the rest. It remains stable the salinity effect on density is bigger than the temperature effect. It is usually fed by the freshwater input of the big Siberian and Canadian streams and even the water of which quasi floats on the saltier and which is even denser, deeper ocean water. Most of the area of Arctic Ocean is covered by sea ice which varies in extent and seasonal thickness, the main extent of the ice is decreasing since the year1980 from the average winter value of 60,23,200 square meters and at a rate of 3% per decade. The variation in the seasons are about 27, 02,700 square meters which occurs maximum in April and minimum in the month of September. The sea ice is affected by the wind and ocean currents as they move and rotate in very large area of ice promptly known as sea ice. These zones of compression also rise and the ice piles up from the pack ice to build in a specific formation.

Geography

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Much of the Arctic region stays warmer than scientists would expect based only on latitude. That unexpected warmth comes from the Arctic Ocean. Water has a high heat capacity, meaning that it takes a lot of energy to change its temperature. This is one reason that coastal areas tend to have mild climates: the ocean keeps them cool during the summer and warm during the winter. Land, in contrast has a lower heat capacity, so it heats up quickly during the day and cools down as soon as the sun goes down.

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In most parts of the Arctic, the moderating effect of the ocean works more strongly in summer than in winter. In winter, sea ice spreads over the ocean, creating an insulating layer, like a blanket, that prevents much heat from escaping from the ocean to warm the air.  That means that the air above the ice can get bitterly cold—deep below freezing—while the water underneath remains much warmer—never getting colder than the freezing point.

Ocean currents also bring heat from warmer regions into the Arctic Ocean. In the Atlantic Ocean, a current called the Gulf Stream brings warm water from the Gulf of Mexico up along the coast of North America and across the North Atlantic Ocean towards Europe. The Gulf Stream keeps places like Norway and the island of Svalbard much warmer than other places at similar latitudes in the Arctic.

Climate

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The climate of the Arctic, classified as polar, is characterized by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Polar climate may be further subdivided into tundra climate the warmest month of which has an average temperature below 50°F/10°C but above 32°F/0°C and ice cap climate all months average below 32°F/0°C, and there is a permanent snow cover. Precipitation, almost entirely in the form of snow, is very low, with the annual average precipitation for the regions less than 20 in. Persistent winds whip up fallen snow to create the illusion of constant snowfall. The climate is moderated by oceanic influences, with regions abutting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans having generally warmer temperatures and heavier snowfalls than the colder and drier interior areas. Much of the Arctic Ocean remains covered by ice throughout the year, although the extent and thickness of the summer ice have shrunk considerably since the early 1980s; in 2012 the volume of ocean ice at its smallest was less than one-third what it is estimated to have been in the early 1980s.

Arctic Environment

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Antarctica is a continent in a hemisphere that is mostly water. The Arctic is mostly ocean, surrounded by mostly land. Therefore the two polar areas are very different. Greenland is covered by an icecap up to 2,700 m thick. Its northern tip is less than 800 km from the North Pole. West of Greenland is the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (1, 3), extending from Resolution Island at 61  N to Ellesmere Island at 83  N, about 2,400 km away. It is almost entirely within the Arctic Circle (at 67  N). The Arctic Islands are numerous, the region is about two million km2, 65% of which is land. There are rugged mountains exceeding 2000 m towards Greenland, mainly Baffin Island, but the average elevation of the islands in the west is below 300 m. The vegetation in summer is tundra, wherever there is neither bare ground, snowfields or glaciers. There are a few other large islands in the eastern (Eurasian) hemisphere, in particular, Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya.

The Fauna and Flora of Polar Regions: Arctic

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The Arctic is the region situated north of the Arctic Circle. It encompasses North America’s far north, Greenland, northern Europe and Asia, and the Arctic Ocean. This ocean is covered with pack ice that never completely thaws. Short tundra vegetation grows on the land, where the temperature rarely rises above 10°C. Despite the extreme living conditions, some indigenous peoples such as the Inuit and the Lapps have made their home in the Arctic. Only the animals that have best adapted to the cold, like the polar bear, Arctic fox and ringed seal, live in these hostile regions year-round. The walrus, harp seal, and numerous bird species migrate when the cold intensifies. The Arctic and its inhabitants are sensitive to global warming as well as marine and atmospheric pollution that accumulates in the region, carried there by the winds and currents.

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One animal that most represents the Arctic wildlife is the polar bear. Many people can only mention a few species that are part of the Arctic region but may be surprised to know the fact that there is a wide variety of animal life, both aquatic and terrestrial.

There are about 130 species of mammals, 280 species of birds, 3,000 species of insects, 450 species of fish and some reptiles and amphibians. Marine life is also formed by algae, krill, zooplankton and microorganisms that are essential for the survival of all other species, even as large as whales. Isn’t it amazing the number of animals that live there? And although it seems a lot, it is said that there are still more sea creatures that have not yet been discovered in the Arctic Ocean, since weather conditions make exploration very difficult and only some parts have been studied.

The Humpback Whale

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The Leopard Seal

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Icefish

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The Weddell seal

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The emperor penguin

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The Orca

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The Musk ox

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The Polar bear

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The Bowhead whale

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Plants of the Arctic Ocean

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When we think of the word “plants” we typically picture trees, bushes, grasses, and ferns – so-called “vascular plants” because of their full systems of leaves, stems, and roots. However, the plant kingdom also includes mosses, liverworts, and hornworts, simpler plants that lack these water-transporting structures.

Temperature

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Temperature is measured using thermometers. It is often the first thing you read in a weather report and can help you decide what clothes to wear, what activities to plan, and what gear to bring when heading outside.

Air temperature is a measure of the amount of energy held in the air. Warm air has more internal energy than cooler air. Temperature can be reported using several different scales. In the United States, the Fahrenheit scale is the most common. Internationally and in science, people use the Celsius scale.

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Just like other regions of the Earth, temperatures in the Arctic tend to rise during the day, when sunlight warms the ground, and fall at night. Arctic temperatures are warmer in summer when there is more sunlight, and colder in winter when the region is dark.

Scientists also use temperature for monitoring changes in climate. Long-term measurements of air temperatures over many years are important for scientists to track climate change.

Arctic Ocean Island

Amsterdam Island 

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Greenland Island

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Monumental Island

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Hyde Parker Island 

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Hudson Island

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Shoe Island

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Crescent Island

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Facts about the Arctic Ocean

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  • ‘Arctic’ comes from ‘arktikos’, the Greek for ‘bear’. The reason is that Ursa Major, the Great Bear constellation, is seen in the northern sky.
  • The Arctic Circle marks the region above which, for at least one day a year, there is all-day sunshine in the summer and 24-hour darkness in the winter.
  • The lowest temperature recorded in the Arctic is –68C (–90.4F) in Siberia.
  • Antarctica is colder than the Arctic. The lowest temperature recorded there was –89.2C (–90.4F)
  • The Arctic Ocean covers 5.4 million square miles, which is more than the area of Europe.
  • The line of the Arctic Circle is about 1,650 miles south of the North Pole.
  • Grey whales migrate 12,500 miles from the Arctic to Mexico and back every year.
  • Eight countries extend into the Arctic: Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the USA (Alaska).
  • Mainland Iceland is actually below the Arctic but the Icelandic island of Grimsey lies exactly on the Arctic Circle.
  • If all the ice in the Arctic melted, the global sea level would rise about 24 feet. If all the ice in the Antarctic melted, it would rise about 200 feet.

Read about other oceans here

Pacific ocean
Indian ocean
Atlantic ocean

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