The Arctic Ocean

If you traveled to the far north, the most northern place of Earth, you would find the Arctic Ocean there. It is Earthís smallest ocean. At the edges of the Arctic Ocean are the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and North America.

The ocean water is so cold that ice forms at the top. The ice is called sea ice. More sea ice forms during the winter, when it is the coldest. In the summer, when it is warmer, much of the sea ice melts. Because our planet is getting warmer, the amount of sea ice that stays around all year long is shrinking. In fact, at some point in the next few decades there will be no more sea ice during summer in the Arctic Ocean.

Many animals live in the Arctic Ocean. Large mammals such as walruses and whales live there, and so do smaller animals like fish and invertebrates. Tiny marine plants called phytoplankton live there too. There are species of algae and small animals that live within the sea ice and small animals that live underneath the sea ice. There is still much that is not known about the organisms that live within and under the Arctic sea ice.

Last modified January 26, 2011 by Jennifer Bergman.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

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...more

Sea Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic

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

Arctic Ocean Currents

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

Methane Is Being Released Much Faster Than Previously Thought from the Arctic Ocean

Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov, scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, have studied a section of the sea floor of the Arctic Ocean called the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. The results of...more

Polar Bears on Thin Ice

Polar bears live in one of our planetís 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

The Warming Arctic

The climate had become warmer during the past few decades in the north polar region . Temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. Warmer temperatures cause other things to...more

Arctic Cultures

Inuit Inuit people live in the chilly northern parts of Canada, Alaska (USA), Siberia (Russia), and Greenland. There are many different groups of people in this large area. Most have similar ways of living...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA