A polar bear in the Arctic
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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.

Last modified February 27, 2007 by Lisa Gardiner.

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