A polar bear in the Arctic
Click on image for full size
US Minerals Management Service, Alaska Region
The Arctic: Earth's North Polar Region
In the Arctic, you will find the Arctic Ocean surrounded by the continents of Europe, Asia, and North America. You will find the geographic North Pole and the magnetic North Pole there; both are in the Arctic Ocean, in an area that is currently covered year-round with sea ice. The aurora, called the Northern Lights in the Northern Hemisphere, can be visible in the night skies. Ice on the land is in glaciers. The Greenland ice sheet is the largest ice on land in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of the ice in the Arctic Ocean is called sea icesea ice.
On the sea ice polar bears look for seals. Seals are the polar bears favorite food. Seals live in the Arctic Ocean with many other types of marine creatures. On land, small plants and lichens grow in harsh and cold conditions. This environment is called Arctic tundra. On the tundra, it is usually cold, often windy, and there is not much precipitation. The soil is frozen most of the year. There are only a few mammals that can survive in such a cold place including reindeer (caribou) and arctic foxes. Many insects and birds live in the Arctic tundra during the summer and migrate south to warmer places during winter. Trees cannot grow in the tundra. Just south of the tundra, the climate is a little less cold and trees can grow.
There are people living in the Arctic. Inuit people live in the northern parts of North America, Greenland, and the Siberian region of Russia. People from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland, who are relatives of the Norsemen or Vikings, also live in the Arctic.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist
, available in our online store
, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.
You might also be interested in:
Sea ice is frozen seawater. It floats on the oceans that are in Earth's polar regions. The salt in the seawater does not freeze. Very salty water gets trapped in the sea ice when it forms. The pockets...more
Polar bears live in one of our planet’s most extreme environments, the Arctic . They thrive in the freezing cold. But because of global warming, polar bears might be in trouble. Scientists are studying...more
It is too cold for trees to grow in the north polar region. This place without trees is called the Arctic tundra. Trees can not grow there but many other things can! During the summer, grass, flowers,...more
Traditional Inuit way of life was influenced by the cold climate of the Arctic tundra. Inuit discovered ways to help them survive in this environment. Read on to learn more about traditional Inuit ways...more
Do you want to learn about how water moves through the Arctic Ocean? Then put your finger on the map on this page. Start on the blue line to the far left of the map. This is where water enters the Arctic...more
It is not easy to survive in the very cold places of the world. The soil is frozen and no trees can grow. This place is called tundra. Plants and animals that are adapted for cold do live there. Most...more
Ice shelves are found at the edges of glaciers and ice sheet. An ice sheet extends from land out over the ocean. Ice shelves are a part of the Earth's cryosphere. They can be found in both the north polar...more