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 ...

Arctic methane release due to melting ice is likely to happen again   PhysOrg - March 22, 2021
Beneath the cold, dark depths of the Arctic ocean sit vast reserves of methane. These stores rest in a delicate balance, stable as a solid called methane hydrates, at very specific pressures and temperatures. If that balance gets tipped, the methane can get released into the water above and eventually make its way to the atmosphere. In its gaseous form, methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, warming the Earth about 30 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide. Understanding possible sources of atmospheric methane is critical for accurately predicting future climate change.

The Arctic Ocean was covered by a shelf ice and filled with freshwater   PhysOrg - February 3, 2021
About 60,000 to 70,000 years ago, in a particularly cold part of the last glacial period, large parts of Northern Europe and North America were covered by ice sheets. The European ice sheet spanned a distance of more than 5000 kilometers, from Ireland and Scotland via Scandinavia to the Eastern rim of the Kara Sea (Arctic Ocean). In North America, large parts of what is now known as Canada were buried under two large ice sheets. Greenland and parts of the Bering Sea coastline were glaciated too. What was the ice situation like even further North, in the Arctic Ocean? Was it covered by thick sea-ice, or maybe with the tongues of these vast ice sheets were floating on it, far beyond the North Pole?

Towering ice arches in the Arctic are melting, putting 'Last Ice Area' at risk of vanishing   Live Science - January 12, 2021
The world's thickest and oldest sea ice is at risk of being lost as the towering ice arches holding it in place experience rapid melting, twice as fast as the rest of the Arctic. The stretch of multiyear sea ice between the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Greenland - which can stay frozen for more than one melt season - is known as the "Last Ice Area" by scientists. Like all sea ice, it grows and shrinks with the seasons, but has so far lasted through even the warmest summers on record and was expected to endure warming temperatures longer than anywhere else in the Arctic.

The Arctic's 'Last Ice Area' Is Showing Worrying Signs of Fragility   Science Alert - January 8, 2021
The stretch of Arctic ice between Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is known as 'the Last Ice Area', thought by scientists to have the best chance of surviving the climate crisis but new research suggests it could be more vulnerable to disappearing than previously thought.

Arctic sea ice goes through 'historic' loss in 2020   Live Science - October 30, 2020
Arctic sea ice has been in decline for a while now, but 2020 is turning out to be by far one of the worst years ever. Every year, like clockwork, the northern ice cap, or sea ice, shrinks in the spring and summer reaching its minimum extent in September and then it grows in the fall and winter to reach its maximum extent in March. But as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the planet, the area covered by this summer sea ice has gotten smaller and smaller. And the ice has failed to reach its usual maximum extent in the winter. This is a change that's come on fast, with recent years producing much worse sea ice even than the period from 1981 to 2010. But even compared with the worst years of the last decade, this summer has been devastating.

Ice Loss Will Trigger Increased Warming in a Vicious Feedback Loop   Science Alert - October 28, 2020
The loss of billions of tonnes of ice from Earth's frozen spaces is likely to increase global temperatures by an additional 0.4 degrees Celsius, according to research Tuesday highlighting the danger of a "vicious circle" of warming.

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The Arctic hasn't been this warm for 3 million years - and that foreshadows big changes for the rest of the planet   PhysOrg - September 30, 2020
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers) - the second-lowest value in the 42 years since satellites began taking measurements. The ice today covers only 50% of the area it covered 40 years ago in late summer.

The Arctic is burning in a whole new way - "Zombie fires" and burning of fire-resistant vegetation are new features driving Arctic fires with strong consequences for the global climate   PhysOrg - September 28, 2020

The 2020 Arctic wildfire season began two months early and was unprecedented in scope.

The Arctic is on fire: Siberian heat wave alarms scientists who worry about what it means for the rest of the world   PhysOrg - June 24, 2020
The thermometer hit a likely record of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Russian Arctic town of Verkhoyansk on Saturday, a temperature that would be a fever for a person - but this is Siberia, known for being frozen. The catastrophic oil spill from a collapsed storage tank last month near the Arctic city of Norilsk was partly blamed on melting permafrost.

Arctic Permafrost Is Going Through a Rapid Meltdown - 70 Years Early   Live Science - June 13, 2019
In the Canadian Arctic, layers of permafrost that scientists expected to remain frozen for at least 70 years have already begun thawing. The once-frozen surface is now sinking and dotted with melt ponds and from above looks a bit like Swiss cheese, satellite images reveal.

The Melting Arctic Is Covering Itself in a Warm Layer of Clouds   Live Science - March 7, 2019
The Arctic is melting. The first ice-free summer is coming. The whole melting process is speeding up the warming of the entire Earth. And every autumn, a layer of extra clouds are forming over the ice-thinning Arctic that researchers now believe are speeding that melting up.

There Are 'Superbug' Genes in the Arctic. They Definitely Shouldn't Be There.   Live Science - January 28, 2019
A "superbug" gene that was first detected in India - and allows bacteria to evade "last resort" antibiotics - has now been found thousands of miles away, in a remote region of the Arctic,

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 ...