Arctic



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The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. The Arctic region consists of a vast ocean with a seasonally varying ice cover, surrounded by treeless permafrost. The area can be defined as north of the Arctic Circle (66° 33'N), the approximate limit of the midnight sun and the polar night. Alternatively, it can be defined as the region where the average temperature for the warmest month July is below 10° C (50° F); the northernmost tree line roughly follows the isotherm at the boundary of this region.

Socially and politically, the Arctic region includes the northern territories of the eight Arctic states, although by natural science definitions much of this territory is considered subarctic. The Arctic region is a unique area among Earth's ecosystems. The cultures in the region and the Arctic indigenous peoples have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions. In recent years the extent of the sea ice has declined. Life in the Arctic includes organisms living in the ice,[5] zooplankton and phytoplankton, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals, plants and human societies. Read more ...




In the News ...





Models show natural swings in the Earth's climate contribute to Arctic sea ice loss   PhysOrg - November 6, 2018
Arctic sea ice loss is enhanced by natural climate fluctuations such as El Ninos and La Ninas. With manmade greenhouse gases on top of the natural climate variability, the decrease in sea ice is even more severe than climate models originally estimated. Using a series of climate models, the team used a "fingerprint" method to estimate the impact of natural climate variability. Natural swings in the Earth's climate contribute to about 40 percent to 50 percent of the observed multi-decadal decline in Arctic sea ice.




Arctic ice sets speed limit for major ocean current   PhysOrg - October 17, 2018
The Beaufort Gyre is an enormous, 600-mile-wide pool of swirling cold, fresh water in the Arctic Ocean, just north of Alaska and Canada. In the winter, this current is covered by a thick cap of ice. Each summer, as the ice melts away, the exposed gyre gathers up sea ice and river runoff, and draws it down to create a huge reservoir of frigid fresh water, equal to the volume of all the Great Lakes combined.




Arctic greening thaws permafrost, boosts runoff   PhysOrg - October 17, 2018
A new collaborative study has investigated Arctic shrub-snow interactions to obtain a better understanding of the far north's tundra and vast permafrost system. Incorporating extensive in situ observations, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists tested their theories with a novel 3-D computer model and confirmed that shrubs can lead to significant degradation of the permafrost layer that has remained frozen for tens of thousands of years. These interactions are driving increases in discharges of fresh water into rivers, lakes and oceans.




Melting Arctic ice lets world's biggest shipping firm complete first voyage through previously impenetrable Northeast Passage   Daily Mail - September 28, 2018
The world's largest shipping company is trying a shortcut trade route through the Arctic as global warming thaws open the infamous Northeast Passage.




There's So Much Methane in This Arctic Lake That You Can Light the Air on Fire   Live Science - September 27, 2018
All day long, the surface of Esieh Lake in northern Alaska shudders with indigestion. This Arctic lake never fully freezes. Stand next to it, and you'll hear it hiss. Watch it, and you'll see it boil with ancient, bubbling gas. Light a fire over it, and the lake will fart a tower of flame higher than your head. That's exactly what Katey Walter Anthony, an aquatic ecosystem ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, did in a popular YouTube video from 2010. Walter Anthony has been studying Esieh Lake for the better part of a decade (she also named it). Now, according to a profile written by Chris Mooney for The Washington Post, she knows the cause of the lake's odd behavior. The culprit is a constant seep of the greenhouse gas methane - a lot of methane - spilling out of an ancient reservoir of permafrost (or permanently frozen ground) deep below the tundra.




'Archived' heat has reached deep into the Arctic interior, researchers say   Science Daily - August 30, 2018

Arctic sea ice isn't just threatened by the melting of ice around its edges, a new study has found: Warmer water that originated hundreds of miles away has penetrated deep into the interior of the Arctic. That "archived" heat, currently trapped below the surface, has the potential to melt the region's entire sea-ice pack if it reaches the surface, researchers say.




Get Used to Nor'easters - Arctic Warming May Mean More Severe Winters in the Northeast   Live Science - March 16, 2018
As average temperatures rise across the planet, the frozen Arctic is heating up faster than anywhere else. With that warmth comes a surprising twist: Unusually warm Arctic winter temperatures are linked to bitter cold and snow in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, such as the northeastern U.S., parts of northern Europe and northern Asia, according to an analysis of 66 years worth of climate data. And the relationship between Arctic warmth and severe winter weather was strongest in in the northeastern U.S. - in fact, a temperature spike in the Arctic meant that the U.S. Northeast was two to four times more likely than usual to experience a bout of extreme winter weather, the scientists reported in a new study.


Arctic temperatures surge in the dead of winter   CNN - February 27, 2018
Winter is still in full swing in the North Pole, but temperatures this week have been downright summer-like in the Arctic. Although it is shrouded in the darkness of a 24-hour polar night, temperatures in the Arctic have soared well above freezing this week, marking the hottest temperatures recorded in the region during winter, according to scientists from the Danish Meteorological Institute. Calculations from Cape Morris Jessup, the world's northernmost land-based weather station, show that temperatures from February in eastern Greenland and the central Arctic are averaging about 15°C (27°F) warmer than seasonal norms.


Freak warming in the Arctic is to blame for the big chill over Europe: Experts warn it's never been this extreme and predict it may happen more often due to climate change   Daily Mail - February 27, 2018


Freakishly Warm Weather in the Arctic Has Climate Scientists Stunned   Live Science - February 26, 2018




Svalbard Global Seed Vault




Arctic stronghold of world's seeds reaches one million mark   BBC - February 26, 2018

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from the North Pole. Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen). The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault's approximately NOK 45 million (US$9 million) construction. Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users, with Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust paying for operational costs. Primary funding for the Trust comes from such organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from various governments worldwide. Read more ...




North Pole


The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the Northern Hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface. It should not be confused with the North Magnetic Pole.

The North Pole is the northernmost point on the Earth, lying diametrically opposite the South Pole. It defines geodetic latitude 90 North, as well as the direction of true north. At the North Pole all directions point south; all lines of longitude converge there, so its longitude can be defined as any degree value. While the South Pole lies on a continental land mass, the North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amid waters that are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice. This makes it impractical to construct a permanent station at the North Pole (unlike the South Pole). However, the Soviet Union, and later Russia, constructed a number of manned drifting stations on a generally annual basis since 1937, some of which have passed over or very close to the Pole. Since 2002, the Russians have also annually established a base, Barneo, close to the Pole. This operates for a few weeks during early spring. Studies in the 2000s predicted that the North Pole may become seasonally ice-free due to Arctic ice shrinkage, with timescales varying from 2016 to the late 21st century or later.

The sea depth at the North Pole has been measured at 4,261 m (13,980 ft) by the Russian Mir submersible in 2007 and at 4,087 m (13,410 ft) by USS Nautilus in 1958. The nearest land is usually said to be Kaffeklubben Island, off the northern coast of Greenland about 700 km (430 mi) away, though some perhaps non-permanent gravel banks lie slightly closer. The nearest permanently inhabited place is Alert in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada, which is located 817 km (508 mi) from the Pole. Read more ...





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