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The Arctic ( or ) is a
polar region Northern Hemisphere permafrost (permanently frozen ground) in purple The Polar Regions, also called the frigid zones Zone or The Zone may refer to: Places Climate and altitude zones * Death zone (originally the lethal zone), altitudes above a ...
located at the northernmost part of
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
. The Arctic consists of the
Arctic Ocean The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major s. It spans an area of approximately and is also known as the coldest of all the oceans. The (IHO) recognizes it as an ocean, although some call it the Arctic Medit ...

Arctic Ocean
, adjacent seas, and parts of
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
(
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
),
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Oce ...

Canada
,
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
,
Greenland Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is an autonomous territory An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administra ...

Greenland
(
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...
),
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
, and
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
. Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and
ice cover
ice cover
, with predominantly treeless
permafrost Permafrost is ground that continuously remains below 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surfa ...

permafrost
(permanently frozen underground ice) containing
tundra In physical geography Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα ...

tundra
. Arctic seas contain seasonal
sea ice Sea ice arises as seawater Seawater, or salt water, is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, whic ...

sea ice
in many places. The Arctic region is a unique area among Earth's ecosystems. The cultures in the region and the Arctic
indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these terms often capitalized when referred to relating to specific countries), or autochthonous peoples, are culturally distinct e ...
have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions. Life in the Arctic includes
zooplankton Zooplankton (; ) are heterotroph A heterotroph (; from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often ro ...

zooplankton
and
phytoplankton Phytoplankton () are the autotrophic An autotroph or primary producer is an organism that produces complex organic compound , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compoun ...

phytoplankton
, fish and
marine mammal Marine mammals are aquatic mammals that rely on the ocean and other marine ecosystems for their existence. They include animals such as Pinniped, seals, Cetacea, whales, Sirenia, manatees, sea otters and polar bears. They are an informal group, ...
s, birds, land animals, plants and human societies. Arctic land is bordered by the
subarctic The subarctic zone is a region in the Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's sur ...
.


Definition and etymology

The word Arctic comes from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
word (''arktikos''), "near the Bear, northern" and that from the word (''arktos''), meaning
bear Bears are carnivora Carnivora is an order of placental Placentalia is one of the three extant subdivisions of the class of animals Mammalia Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Ita ...

bear
. The name refers either to the
constellation A constellation is an area on the celestial sphere in which a group of visible stars forms a perceived outline or pattern, typically representing an animal, mythological person or creature, or an inanimate object. The origins of the earliest ...

constellation
Ursa Major Ursa Major (; also known as the Great Bear) is a in the , whose associated mythology likely dates back into prehistory. Its Latin name means "greater (or larger) she-bear," referring to and contrasting it with nearby , the lesser bear. In , it ...

Ursa Major
, the "Great Bear", which is prominent in the northern portion of the
celestial sphere In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses ...

celestial sphere
, or to the constellation
Ursa Minor Ursa Minor (Latin: "Lesser Bear", contrasting with Ursa Major), also known as the Little Bear, is a constellation in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere, Northern Sky. Like the Great Bear, the tail of the Little Bear may also be seen as the handle ...

Ursa Minor
, the "Little Bear", which contains
Polaris Polaris ( ), designated α Ursae Minoris ( Latinized to Alpha Ursae Minoris, abbreviated Alpha UMi, α UMi), commonly the North Star or Pole Star, is the brightest star of the constellation Ursa Minor. It is very close to the nort ...

Polaris
, the Pole Star, also known as the North Star. There are a number of definitions of what area is contained within the Arctic. The area can be defined as north of the
Arctic Circle The Arctic Circle is one of the two polar circle A polar circle is a geographic term for a conditional circular line (arc) referring either to the Arctic Circle The Arctic Circle is one of the two s and the most northerly of the fiv ...

Arctic Circle
(66° 33'N), the approximate southern limit of the
midnight sun The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon Types of natural phenomena include: Weather, fog, thunder, tornadoes; biological processes, decomposition, germination seedlings, three days after germination. Germination is the process by wh ...

midnight sun
and the
polar night The polar night is a phenomenon where the night Night (also described as night time, night-time, or nighttime, unconventionally spelled as ''nite'') is the period of ambient Ambient or Ambiance or Ambience may refer to: Music and sound * ...

polar night
. Another definition of the Arctic, which is popular with
ecologists This is a list of notable ecologists. A-D * John Aber (United States) * Aziz Ab'Saber (Brazil) * Charles Christopher Adams (United States) * Warder Clyde Allee (USA) * H. G. Andrewartha, Herbert G. Andrewartha (Australia) * Sarah Martha Baker ( ...
, is the region in the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
where the average temperature for the warmest month (July) is below ; the northernmost
tree line The tree line is the edge of the habitat at which tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of ...

tree line
roughly follows the isotherm at the boundary of this region.


Climate

The Arctic is characterized by cold winters and cool summers. Its precipitation mostly comes in the form of snow and is low, with most of the area receiving less than . High winds often stir up snow, creating the illusion of continuous snowfall. Average winter temperatures can go as low as , and the coldest recorded temperature is approximately . Coastal Arctic climates are moderated by oceanic influences, having generally warmer temperatures and heavier snowfalls than the colder and drier interior areas. The Arctic is affected by current
global warming Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...

global warming
, leading to Arctic sea ice shrinkage, diminished ice in the
Greenland ice sheet The Greenland ice sheet ( da, Grønlands indlandsis, kl, Sermersuaq) is a vast body of ice Ice is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of wate ...

Greenland ice sheet
, and
Arctic methane release The Arctic ( or ) is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of conti ...
as the
permafrost Permafrost is ground that continuously remains below 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surfa ...

permafrost
thaws. The melting of Greenland's ice sheet is linked to polar amplification. Due to the poleward migration of the planet's isotherms (about per decade during the past 30 years as a consequence of global warming), the Arctic region (as defined by
tree line The tree line is the edge of the habitat at which tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of ...

tree line
and temperature) is currently shrinking. Perhaps the most alarming result of this is Arctic sea ice shrinkage. There is a large variance in predictions of Arctic sea ice loss, with models showing near-complete to complete loss in September from 2035 to some time around 2067.


Flora and fauna

Arctic life is characterized by adaptation to short growing seasons with long periods of sunlight, and to cold, dark, snow-covered winter conditions.


Plants

Arctic vegetation In the Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Al ...
is composed of plants such as
dwarf shrubs
dwarf shrubs
,
graminoids In botany and ecology, graminoid refers to a herbaceous plant with a grass-like morphology, i.e. elongated culm (botany), culms with long, blade-like leaves. They are contrasted to forbs, herbaceous plants without grass-like features. The plant ...

graminoids
,
herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is app ...

herb
s,
lichen A lichen ( , ) is a composite organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecu ...

lichen
s, and
moss Mosses are small, non-vascular flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other plant ...

moss
es, which all grow relatively close to the ground, forming
tundra In physical geography Physical geography (also known as physiography) is one of the two fields of geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα ...

tundra
. An example of a dwarf shrub is the
bearberry Bearberries ( indigenous kinnickinnick) are three species of dwarf shrub A shrub (or bush, but this is more of a gardening term) is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody ste ...

bearberry
. As one moves northward, the amount of warmth available for plant growth decreases considerably. In the northernmost areas, plants are at their metabolic limits, and small differences in the total amount of summer warmth make large differences in the amount of energy available for maintenance, growth and reproduction. Colder summer temperatures cause the size, abundance, productivity and variety of plants to decrease. Trees cannot grow in the Arctic, but in its warmest parts, shrubs are common and can reach in height;
sedges The Cyperaceae are a family of graminoid In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in t ...
, mosses and lichens can form thick layers. In the coldest parts of the Arctic, much of the ground is bare;
non-vascular plant Non-vascular plants are plant Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy t ...
s such as lichens and mosses predominate, along with a few scattered grasses and
forb A forb or phorb is a herbaceous Herbaceous plants are vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from the Greek ''trācheia''), form a large group of plants ( 300,000 accepte ...
s (like the
Arctic poppy
Arctic poppy
).


Animals

Herbivores on the tundra include the
Arctic hare The Arctic hare (''Lepus arcticus'') is a species of hare Hares and jackrabbits are Leporidae, leporids belonging to the genus ''Lepus''. Hares are classified in the same Family (biology), family as rabbits. They have similar herbivorous diets ...

Arctic hare
,
lemming A lemming is a small rodent, usually found in or near the Arctic in tundra biomes. Lemmings make up the Family (biology), subfamily Arvicolinae (also known as Microtinae) together with voles and muskrats, which form part of the superfamily Muroid ...

lemming
,
muskox The muskox (''Ovibos moschatus'', in Latin "musky sheep-ox"), also spelled musk ox and musk-ox (in iu, ᐅᒥᖕᒪᒃ, umingmak; in Woods Cree Woods Cree is an autochthonous language spoken in Northern Manitoba, Northern Saskatchewan and N ...

muskox
, and
caribou The reindeer (''Rangifer tarandus''), also known as the caribou in North America, is a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to Arctic, subarctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North ...

caribou
. They are preyed on by the
snowy owl The snowy owl (''Bubo scandiacus''), also known as the polar owl, the white owl and the Arctic owl, is a large, white owl Owls are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of ani ...

snowy owl
,
Arctic fox The Arctic fox (''Vulpes lagopus''), also known as the white fox, polar fox, or snow fox, is a small fox Foxes are small to medium-sized, s belonging to several of the family . They have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a ...

Arctic fox
,
Grizzly bear The grizzly bear (''Ursus arctos horribilis''), also known as the North American brown bear or simply grizzly, is a population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, countr ...
, and
Arctic wolf The Arctic wolf (''Canis lupus arctos''), also known as the white wolf or polar wolf, is a subspecies of grey wolf native to Canada's Queen Elizabeth Islands The Queen Elizabeth Islands (french: Îles de la Reine-Élisabeth; formerly Parry ...
. The
polar bear The polar bear (''Ursus Ursus is Latin for bear. It may also refer to: Animals *Ursus (mammal), ''Ursus'' (mammal), a genus of bears People * Ursus of Aosta, 6th-century evangelist * Ursus of Auxerre, 6th-century bishop * Ursus of Soloth ...

polar bear
is also a predator, though it prefers to hunt for marine life from the ice. There are also many
birds Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With ...
and marine species endemic to the colder regions. Other terrestrial animals include
wolverine The wolverine () (also spelled wolverene), ''Gulo gulo'' (''Gulo'' is Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from ...

wolverine
s,
moose The moose (in North America) or elk (in Eurasia) (''Alces alces'') is a member of the New World deer subfamily and is the largest and heaviest extant Extant is the opposite of the word extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of ...

moose
,
Dall sheep The Dall sheep (''Ovis dalli''), thinhorn sheep or Dall's sheep, is a wild sheep native to northwestern North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It ...
, ermines, and
Arctic ground squirrel The Arctic ground squirrel (''Urocitellus parryii'') (Inuktitut Inuktitut (; , syllabics ; from , "person" + , "like", "in the manner of"), also Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, is one of the principal Inuit languages of Canada. It is spoken in al ...

Arctic ground squirrel
s. Marine mammals include
seals Seals may refer to: * Pinniped Pinnipeds (pronounced ), commonly known as seals, are a widely and diverse of , -footed, , mostly s. They comprise the (whose only living member is the ), (the eared seals: s and s), and (the earless sea ...
,
walrus The walrus (''Odobenus rosmarus'') is a large pinniped, flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous distribution about the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in ...

walrus
, and several species of
cetacea Cetaceans (from la, cetus Cetus () is a constellation, sometimes called 'the whale' in English. The Cetus (mythology), Cetus was a sea monster in Greek mythology which both Perseus and Heracles needed to slay. Cetus is in the region of the ...

cetacea
n—
baleen whale Baleen whales (systematic nameA systematic name is a name given in a systematic way to one unique group, organism, object or chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter i ...

baleen whale
s and also
narwhal The narwhal, also known as a narwhale (''Monodon monoceros''), is a medium-sized toothed whale that possesses a large "tusk" from a protruding canine tooth. It lives year-round in the Arctic waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. It is ...

narwhal
s,
killer whale The killer whale or orca (''Orcinus orca'') is a toothed whale The toothed whales (also called odontocetes, systematic name Odontoceti) are a parvorder of cetacea Cetaceans (from la, Cetus (mythology), cetus, lit=whale, from grc, κ ...

killer whale
s, and
belugas
belugas
. An excellent and famous example of a
ring species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, ...

ring species
exists and has been described around the Arctic Circle in the form of the ''
Larus ''Larus'' is a large genus of gulls with worldwide distribution (by far the greatest species diversity is in the Northern Hemisphere). Many of its species are abundant and well-known birds in their ranges. Until about 2005–2007, most gulls ...

Larus
'' gulls.


Natural resources

The Arctic includes copious
natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can broadly be classified upon their availability — they are classified into renewabl ...
s (oil, gas, minerals, fresh water, fish and, if the subarctic is included, forest) to which modern technology and the economic opening up of Russia have given significant new opportunities. The interest of the tourism industry is also on the increase. The Arctic contains some of the last and most extensive continuous
wilderness Wilderness or wildlands (usually in the plural), are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. The term has traditionally re ...

wilderness
areas in the world, and its significance in preserving
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
and
genotype The genotype of an organism is its complete set of genetic material. Genotype can also be used to refer to the or variants an individual carries in a particular gene or genetic location. The number of alleles an individual can have in a specific ...
s is considerable. The increasing presence of humans fragments vital habitats. The Arctic is particularly susceptible to the abrasion of
groundcover 250px, Groundcover of '' Vinca major'' Groundcover or ground cover is any plant Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transform ...

groundcover
and to the disturbance of the rare breeding grounds of the animals that are characteristic to the region. The Arctic also holds 1/5 of the Earth's water supply.


Paleontology

During the
Cretaceous time period
Cretaceous time period
, the Arctic still had seasonal snows, though only a light dusting and not enough to permanently hinder plant growth. Animals such as the ''
Chasmosaurus ''Chasmosaurus'' ( ) is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also re ...

Chasmosaurus
'', ''
Hypacrosaurus ''Hypacrosaurus'' (meaning "near the highest lizard" reek υπο-, ''hypo-'' = less + ακρος, ''akros'', high because it was almost but not quite as large as ''Tyrannosaurus'') was a genus of hadrosaurid, duckbill dinosaur similar in appe ...

Hypacrosaurus
'', ''
Troodon ''Troodon'' ( ; ''Troödon'' in older sources) is a former wastebasket taxon and a potentially nomen dubium, dubious genus of relatively small, bird-like dinosaurs known definitively from the Campanian age of the Cretaceous Period (geology), perio ...

Troodon
'', and ''
Edmontosaurus ''Edmontosaurus'' ( ) (meaning "lizard from Edmonton Edmonton ( ) is the capital city of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Me ...

Edmontosaurus
'' may have all migrated north to take advantage of the summer growing season, and migrated south to warmer climes when winter came. A similar situation may also have been found amongst
dinosaur Dinosaurs are a diverse group of reptiles of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic Geological period, period, between 243 and 233.23 annum, million years ago, although the exact origin and timing of the evolution ...

dinosaur
s that lived in
Antarctic The Antarctic (US English or , UK English or and or ) is a around 's , opposite the region around the . The Antarctic comprises the continent of , the and other located on the or south of the . The Antarctic region includes the , wa ...

Antarctic
regions, such as the ''
Muttaburrasaurus ''Muttaburrasaurus'' was a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also r ...
'' of
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. However, others claim that dinosaurs lived year-round at very high latitudes, such as near the Colville River, which is now at about 70° N but at the time (70 million years ago) was 10° further north.


Indigenous population

The earliest inhabitants of North America's central and eastern Arctic are referred to as the
Arctic small tool traditionThe Arctic Small Tool tradition (ASTt) was a broad cultural entity that developed along the Alaska Peninsula and cottongrass meadow Image:AKPen4.jpg, 250px, Peulik Volcano and Ukinrek Maars The Alaska Peninsula (also called Aleut Peninsula or ...
(AST) and existed c. 2500 BCE. AST consisted of several
Paleo-Eskimo The Paleo-Eskimo (also pre-Thule or pre-Inuit) were the peoples who inhabited the Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adj ...
cultures, including the Independence cultures and
Pre-Dorset The Pre-Dorset is a loosely defined term for a Paleo-Eskimo The Paleo-Eskimo (also pre-Thule or pre-Inuit) were the peoples who inhabited the Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost par ...
culture.Gibbon, pp. 28–31 The
Dorset culture The Dorset was a Paleo-Eskimo The Paleo-Eskimo (also pre-Thule or pre-Inuit) were the peoples who inhabited the Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic con ...
(
Inuktitut Inuktitut (; , Inuktitut syllabics, syllabics ; from , "person" + , "like", "in the manner of"), also Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, is one of the principal Inuit languages of Canada. It is spoken in all areas north of the tree line, including part ...

Inuktitut
: ''Tuniit'' or ''Tunit'') refers to the next inhabitants of central and eastern Arctic. The Dorset culture evolved because of technological and economic changes during the period of 1050–550 BCE. With the exception of the
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
/
Labrador , nickname = "The Big Land" , etymology = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Canada , subdivision_type1 = Provinces and territories of ...

Labrador
peninsula, the Dorset culture vanished around 1500 CE. Supported by genetic testing, evidence shows that descendants of the Dorset culture, known as the
Sadlermiut The Sadlermiut (also called Sagdlirmiut, or Sallirmiut in modern Inuktitut Inuktitut (; , syllabics ; from , "person" + , "like", "in the manner of"), also Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, is one of the principal Inuit languages of Canada. It is sp ...
, survived in Aivilik,
Southampton Southampton () is a port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility comprising one or more Wharf, wharves or loading areas, where ships load and discharge Affreightment, cargo and passengers. Although usually situated on a sea ...

Southampton
and
Coats Island Coats Island (Inuktitut Inuktitut (; , syllabics ; from , "person" + , "like", "in the manner of"), also Eastern Canadian Inuktitut, is one of the principal Inuit languages The Inuit languages are a closely related group of indigenous Amer ...

Coats Island
s, until the beginning of the 20th century. The Dorset/
Thule culture The Thule (, , ) or proto-Inuit were the ancestors of all modern Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as ...
transition dates around the 9th–10th centuries CE. Scientists theorize that there may have been cross-contact of the two cultures with sharing of technology, such as fashioning harpoon heads, or the Thule may have found Dorset remnants and adapted their ways with the predecessor culture. Others believe the Thule displaced the Dorset. By 1300 CE, the
Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, ...
, present-day Arctic inhabitants and descendants of Thule culture, had settled in west Greenland, and moved into east Greenland over the following century (
Inughuit The Inughuit (also spelled Inuhuit), or the Smith Sound Inuit, historically Arctic Highlanders, are Greenlandic Inuit Greenlanders ( kl, Kalaallit / Tunumiit / Inughuit; da, Grønlændere) are people identified with the country of Greenland o ...
,
Kalaallit Kalaallit make up the largest group of the Greenlandic Inuit Greenlanders ( kl, Kalaallit / Tunumiit / Inughuit; da, Grønlændere) are people identified with the country of Greenland or the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous peop ...
and
Tunumiit Tunumiit are Greenlandic Inuit from Tunu, the eastern part of Greenland. The Tunummiit live now mainly in Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit and are a part of the Arctic people known collectively as the Inuit. The singular for Tunumiit is Tunumiu. Nort ...
are modern Greenlandic Inuit groups descended from Thule). Over time, the Inuit have migrated throughout the Arctic regions of Eastern Russia, the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Other Circumpolar North indigenous peoples include the
Chukchi Chukchi may refer to: *Chukchi people *Chukchi language *Chukchi Peninsula *Chukchi Sea See also

*Chukotka (disambiguation) *Chukotsky (disambiguation) {{Disambig, geo Language and nationality disambiguation pages ...
,
Evenks The Evenks (also spelled Ewenki or Evenki based on their endonym )Autonym: (); russian: Эвенки (); (); formerly known as Tungus or Tunguz; mn, Хамниган () or Aiwenji () are a Tungusic people Tungusic peoples are an ethno-lingui ...
,
Iñupiat The Iñupiat (or Inupiat, Iñupiaq or Inupiaq;) are a group of Alaska Natives, whose traditional territory roughly spans northeast from Norton Sound on the Bering Sea to the northernmost part of the Canada–United States border and often claim to ...
,
Khanty The Khanty (in older literature: Ostyaks) are a Ugrian The Ugric or Ugrian languages ( or ) are a proposed branch of the Uralic language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spo ...
,
Koryaks Koryaks (or Koriak, ) are an indigenous people#North Asia, indigenous people of the Russian Far East, who live immediately north of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Kamchatka Krai and inhabit the coastlands of the Bering Sea. The cultural borders of th ...
, Nenets,
Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sami Bay, east of Sami, Ceph ...
,
Yukaghir The Yukaghirs, or Yukagirs ( (''odul, detkil''), russian: юкаги́ры) are a people in the Russian Far East, living in the drainage basin, basin of the Kolyma River. Geographic distribution The Tundra Yukaghirs live in the Lower Kolyma ...
, Gwich'in, and
YupikYupik may refer to: * Yupik peoples, a group of indigenous peoples of Alaska and the Russian Far East * Yupik languages, a group of Inuit-Aleut languages Yupꞌik (with the apostrophe) may refer to: * Yup'ik people, a Yupik people from western and s ...
.


International cooperation and politics

The eight Arctic nations (Canada, Kingdom of Denmark reenland & The Faroe Islands Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and USA) are all members of the
Arctic Council The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Ar ...

Arctic Council
, as are organizations representing six indigenous populations. The Council operates on consensus basis, mostly dealing with environmental treaties and not addressing boundary or resource disputes. Though Arctic policy priorities differ, every Arctic nation is concerned about sovereignty/defense, resource development, shipping routes, and environmental protection. Much work remains on regulatory agreements regarding shipping, tourism, and resource development in Arctic waters. Research in the Arctic has long been a collaborative international effort, evidenced by the
International Polar Year 240px, Logo The International Polar Years (IPY) are collaborative, international efforts with intensive research foci on the polar regions. Karl Weyprecht, an Austro-Hungarian naval officer, motivated the endeavor in 1875, but died before it first ...
. The
International Arctic Science Committee The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) is a non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience at the launch o ...
, hundreds of scientists and specialists of the
Arctic Council The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Ar ...

Arctic Council
, and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council are more examples of collaborative international Arctic research.


Territorial claims

No country owns the geographic
North Pole The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is the point in the Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only ast ...
or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The surrounding six Arctic states that border the Arctic Ocean—Canada, Kingdom of Denmark (with Greenland), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States—are limited to a exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off their coasts. Two Arctic states (Finland and Sweden) do not have direct access to the Arctic Ocean. Upon ratification of the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in intern ...

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
, a country has ten years to make claims to an extended continental shelf beyond its 200 nautical mile zone. Due to this, Norway (which ratified the convention in 1996), Russia (ratified in 1997), Canada (ratified in 2003) and the Kingdom of Denmark (ratified in 2004) launched projects to establish claims that certain sectors of the Arctic seabed should belong to their territories. On 2 August 2007, two Russian
bathyscaphe A bathyscaphe ( or ) is a free-diving Image:Junko-Kitahama Apnea-Monofin cropped.jpg, Freediver with monofin, ascending Freediving, free-diving, free diving, breath-hold diving, or skin diving is a form of underwater diving that relies on apnea ...
s, MIR-1 and MIR-2, for the first time in history descended to the Arctic
seabed The seabed (also known as the seafloor, sea floor, ocean floor, and ocean bottom) is the bottom of the ocean. All floors of the ocean are known as 'seabeds'. The structure of the seabed of the global ocean is governed by plate tectonics. Most of ...

seabed
beneath the North Pole and placed there a
Russian flag The flag of the Russian Federation () is a tricolor (flag), tricolour flag consisting of three equal horizontal fields: white on the top, blue in the middle, and red on the bottom. The flag was first used as an ensign for Russian merchant ships ...

Russian flag
made of rust-proof
titanium alloyTitanium alloys are alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appe ...
. The flag-placing during
Arktika 2007 Arktika 2007 (russian: Российская полярная экспедиция "Арктика-2007") was a 2007 expedition in which Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning East ...
generated commentary on and concern for a race for control of the Arctic's vast hydrocarbon resources. Foreign ministers and other officials representing Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States met in on 28 May 2008 at the Arctic Ocean Conference and announced the Ilulissat Declaration, blocking any "new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean," and pledging "the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims." As of 2012, the Kingdom of Denmark is claiming the continental shelf based on the Lomonosov Ridge between Greenland and over the North Pole to the northern limit of the Russian EEZ. The Russian Federation is also claiming a large swath of seabed along the Lomonosov Ridge but, unlike Denmark, confined its claim to its side of the Arctic. In August 2015, Russia made a supplementary submission for the expansion of the external borders of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, asserting that the eastern part of the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleyev Ridge are an extension of the Eurasian continent. In August 2016, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf began to consider Russia's submission. Canada claims the Northwest Passage as part of its Canadian Internal Waters, internal waters belonging to Canada, while the United States and most maritime nations regards it as an Territorial waters, international strait, which means that foreign vessels have right of transit passage.


Exploration

Since 1937, the larger portion of the Asian-side Arctic region has been extensively explored by Soviet and Russian manned drifting ice stations. Between 1937 and 1991, 88 international polar crews established and occupied scientific settlements on the drift ice and were carried thousands of kilometers by the ice flow.


Pollution

The Arctic is comparatively clean, although there are certain ecologically difficult localized pollution problems that present a serious threat to people's health living around these pollution sources. Due to the prevailing worldwide sea and air currents, the Arctic area is the fallout region for long-range transport pollutants, and in some places the concentrations exceed the levels of densely populated urban areas. An example of this is the phenomenon of Arctic haze, which is commonly blamed on long-range pollutants. Another example is with the bioaccumulation of PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls) in Arctic wildlife and people.


Preservation

There have been many proposals to preserve the Arctic over the years. Most recently a group of stars at the Rio Earth Summit, on 21 June 2012, proposed protecting the Arctic, similar to the Antarctic Treaty System, Antarctic protection. The initial focus of the campaign will be a UN resolution creating a global sanctuary around the pole, and a ban on oil drilling and unsustainable fishing in the Arctic.


Global warming

The effects of global warming in the Arctic include rising temperatures, loss of
sea ice Sea ice arises as seawater Seawater, or salt water, is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, whic ...

sea ice
, and melting of the
Greenland ice sheet The Greenland ice sheet ( da, Grønlands indlandsis, kl, Sermersuaq) is a vast body of ice Ice is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of wate ...

Greenland ice sheet
. Potential Arctic methane release, methane release from the region, especially through the thawing of
permafrost Permafrost is ground that continuously remains below 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surfa ...

permafrost
and methane clathrates, is also a concern. Because of the Polar amplification, amplified response of the Arctic to global warming, it is often seen as a leading indicator of
global warming Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...

global warming
. The melting of Greenland's ice sheet is linked to polar amplification. The Arctic is especially vulnerable to the effects of any climate change, as has become apparent with the reduction of sea ice in recent years. Climate models predict much greater warming in the Arctic than the global average, resulting in significant international attention to the region. In particular, there are concerns that Arctic shrinkage, a consequence of melting glaciers and other ice in Greenland, could soon contribute to a substantial rise in sea levels worldwide. The current Arctic warming is leading to ancient carbon being released from thawing
permafrost Permafrost is ground that continuously remains below 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years, located on land or under the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surfa ...

permafrost
, leading to methane and carbon dioxide production by micro-organisms. Release of methane and carbon dioxide stored in permafrost could cause abrupt and severe global warming, as they are potent greenhouse gases. Climate change is also predicted to have a large impact on tundra vegetation, causing an increase of shrubs, and having a negative impact on bryophytes and lichens. Apart from concerns regarding the detrimental effects of warming in the Arctic, some potential opportunities have gained attention. The melting of the ice is making the Northwest Passage, the shipping routes through the northernmost latitudes, more navigable, raising the possibility that the Arctic region will become a prime trade route. One harbinger of the opening navigability of the Arctic took place in the summer of 2016 when the Crystal Serenity successfully navigated the Northwest Passage, a first for a large cruise ship. In addition, it is believed that the Arctic seabed may contain substantial oil fields which may become accessible if the ice covering them melts. These factors have led to recent international debates as to which nations can claim sovereignty or ownership over the waters of the Arctic.Shaw, Rob
"New patrol ships will reassert northern sovereignty: PM".
Victoria Times Colonist. 9 July 2007.


Arctic waters

*
Arctic Ocean The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major s. It spans an area of approximately and is also known as the coldest of all the oceans. The (IHO) recognizes it as an ocean, although some call it the Arctic Medit ...

Arctic Ocean
* Baffin Bay * Beaufort Sea * Barents Sea * Bering Sea * Bering Strait * Chukchi Sea * Davis Strait * Denmark Strait * East Siberian Sea * Greenland Sea * Hudson Bay * Kara Sea * Laptev Sea * Nares Strait * Norwegian Sea


Arctic lands


See also

*
Antarctic The Antarctic (US English or , UK English or and or ) is a around 's , opposite the region around the . The Antarctic comprises the continent of , the and other located on the or south of the . The Antarctic region includes the , wa ...

Antarctic
* Arctic Cooperation and Politics * List of countries by northernmost point * Poverty in the Arctic * Ring species * Arctic Winter Games


Notes


References


Bibliography

*


Further reading

* Brian W. Coad, James D. Reist. (2017). ''Marine Fishes of Arctic Canada''. University of Toronto Press.
"Global Security, Climate Change, and the Arctic"
– 24-page special journal issue (Fall 2009), ''Swords and Ploughshares'', Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS), University of Illinois
GLOBIO Human Impact maps
''Report on human impacts on the Arctic'' * Krupnik, Igor, Michael A. Lang, and Scott E. Miller, eds
''Smithsonian at the Poles: Contributions to International Polar Year Science.''
Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2009.
Konyshev, Valery & Sergunin, Alexander: The Arctic at the Crossroads of Geopolitical Interests
Russian Politics and Law, 2012, Vol.50, No.2, pp. 34–54
Käpylä, Juha & Mikkola, Harri: The Global Arctic: The Growing Arctic Interests of Russia, China, the United States and the European Union
FIIA Briefing Paper 133, August 2013
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs

Konyshev, Valery & Sergunin, Alexander. The Arctic at the crossroads of geopolitical interests // Russian Politics and Law, 2012. Vol. 50, № 2. p. 34–54

Konyshev, Valery & Sergunin, Alexander: Is Russia a revisionist military power in the Arctic?
Defense & Security Analysis, September 2014.
Konyshev, Valery & Sergunin, Alexander. Russia in search of its Arctic strategy: between hard and soft power?
Polar Journal, April 2014. * McCannon, John. ''A History of the Arctic: Nature, Exploration and Exploitation''. Reaktion Books and University of Chicago Press, 2012. * *


External links


Arctic Report Card

Blossoming Arctic

International Arctic Research Center

Arctic Theme Page
Comprehensive Arctic Resource from NOAA.
WWF International Arctic Programme
Arctic environment and conservation information
Bering Sea Climate and Ecosystem
Current state of the Bering Sea Climate and Ecosystem. Comprehensive resource on the Bering Sea with viewable oceanographic, atmospheric, climatic, biological and fisheries data with ecosystem relevance, recent trends, essays on key Bering Sea issues, maps, photos, animals and more. From NOAA.
Toxoplasma gondii in the Subarctic and Arctic

Protecting U.S. Sovereignty: Coast Guard Operations in the Arctic: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, First Session, 1 December 2011


Maps


Arctic Environmental Atlas
''Circum-Arctic interactive map, with multiple layers of information''
Interactive Satellite Map
with daily update (true color/infrared)


Media


The Emerging Arctic
An Infoguide from the Council on Foreign Relations

– streaming video of November 2009 symposium at the University of Illinois

– November 2009 radio interview with Professor Klaus Dodds (Royal Holloway, University of London)
The Canadian Museum of Civilization – The Story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–1918

UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics library
Information resources from the UN Environment programme
Arctic Institute of North America Digital Library
Over 8000 photographs dating from the late 19th century through the 20th century.
euroarctic.com
News service from the Barents region provided by Norwegian Broadcasting Corp (NRK), Swedish Radio (SR) and STBC Murman.
arcticfocus.com
Independent News service covering Arctic region with daily updates on environment, Arctic disputes and business
Vital Arctic Graphics
''Overview and case studies of the Arctic environment and the Arctic Indigenous Peoples.''
Arctic and Taiga Canadian Atlas



PolarTREC
''PolarTREC-Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating''
Monthly Sea Ice Outlook

UN Environment Programme Key Polar Centre at UNEP/GRID-Arendal

Arctic Geobotanical Atlas, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Polar Discovery

Arctic Transform
Transatlantic Policy Options for Supporting Adaptation in the Marine Arctic
ArcticStat Circumpolar Database
{{Authority control Arctic, Geography of Eastern Europe Geography of North America Geography of Northeast Asia Geography of Northern Europe Geography of Siberia Polar regions of the Earth