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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 five major as shown on maps of . It marks the northernmo ...

polar circle
s and the most northerly of the five major
circles of latitude The Mercator projection and its use on a world map. This projection first came into use in the 16th century by the Dutch. A circle of latitude or line of latitude on Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomi ...
as shown on maps 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
. It marks the northernmost point at which the center of the
noon Noon (or midday) is 12 o'clock The 12-hour clock is a time convention in which the 24 hours of the day are divided into two periods: a.m. (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the In ...

noon
sun is just visible on the
December solstice The December solstice, also known as the southern solstice, is the that occurs each December – typically on 21 December, but may vary by one day in either direction according to the . In the , the December solstice is the (the day with the s ...
and the southernmost point at which the center 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
is just visible on the
June solstice The June solstice is the solstice on the Earth that occurs each year falling on 20–22 June according to the Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope G ...
. The region north of this circle is known as 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, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Danish Realm, ...

Arctic
, and the zone just to the south is called the
Northern Temperate Zone Northern may refer to the following: Geography * North, a point in direction * Northern Europe Northern Europe is a loosely defined Geography, geographical and cultural region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as b ...
. As seen from the Arctic, the Sun is above the
horizon The horizon is the apparent line that separates the surface of a celestial body In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that st ...

horizon
for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore visible at
midnight Midnight is the transition time from one day A day is approximately the period during which the Earth completes one rotation around its axis, which takes around 24 hours. A solar day is the length of time which elapses between the Sun reachin ...

midnight
) and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore not visible at noon). This is also true in the
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
region, south of the equivalent
Antarctic Circle 350px, ''Map of the Antarctic with the Antarctic Circle in blue.'' The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the five major circle of latitude, circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. The region south of this circle is known as the An ...

Antarctic Circle
. The position of the Arctic Circle is not fixed and currently runs north of the
Equator The Equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that divides Earth into the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Southern hemispheres. It is an imaginary line located at 0 degrees latitude, halfway between the N ...

Equator
. Its latitude depends on the Earth's
axial tilt In , axial tilt, also known as obliquity, is the angle between an object's and its al axis, or, equivalently, the angle between its ial plane and . It differs from . At an obliquity of 0 degrees, the two axes point in the same direction; i.e., ...
, which fluctuates within a margin of more than 2° over a 41,000-year period, owing to
tidal force The tidal force is a gravitational effect that stretches a body along the line towards the center of mass In physics, the center of mass of a distribution of mass Mass is the physical quantity, quantity of ''matter'' in a physical body. It ...

tidal force
s resulting from the
orbit of the Moon The Moon The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. At about one-quarter the diameter of Earth (comparable to the width of Australia (continent), Australia), it is the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size ...
. Consequently, the Arctic Circle is currently drifting northwards (shrinking) at a speed of about per year.


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 ἀρκτικός (''arktikos'': "near
the Bear
the Bear
, northern") and that from the word ἄρκτος (''arktos'': "
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
").


Midnight sun and polar night

The Arctic Circle is the southernmost latitude 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
at which the center of the sun can remain continuously above or below the horizon for twenty-four hours; as a result, at least once each year at any location within the Arctic Circle the center of the sun is
visible at local midnight
visible at local midnight
, and at least once the center is
not visible at local noon
not visible at local noon
. Directly on the Arctic Circle these events occur, in principle, exactly once per year: at the
June June is the sixth month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars, the second of four months to have a length of 30 days, and the third of five months to have a length of less than 31 days. June contains the summer so ...
and
December December is the twelfth and the final month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, t ...
solstice A solstice is an event that occurs when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere In astronomy and navigation, the celestial sphere is an abstraction, abstr ...

solstice
s, respectively. However, because of
atmospheric refraction Atmospheric refraction is the deviation of or other from a straight line as it passes through the due to the variation in as a function of . This refraction is due to the velocity of light through , decreasing (the increases) with increased ...

atmospheric refraction
and
mirage A mirage is a naturally-occurring in which light rays bend via to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. The word comes to via the ''(se) mirer'', from the ''mirari'', meaning "to look at, to wonder at". Mirages can be c ...

mirage
s, and also because the sun appears as a disk and not a point, part of the midnight sun may be seen on the night of the northern
summer solstice The summer solstice, also known as estival solstice or midsummer Midsummer is the period of time in the middle of the summer. The exact dates vary among different cultures, but is primarily held close to the summer solstice The summer solst ...

summer solstice
up to about 50 minutes (′) () south of the Arctic Circle; similarly, on the day of the northern
winter solstice The winter solstice, also called the hibernal solstice, occurs when either of Earth's geographical pole, poles reaches its maximum axial tilt, tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern Hemisphere, Nort ...

winter solstice
, part of the sun may be seen up to about 50′ north of the Arctic Circle. That is true at
sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloquial, ordinary language, an average is a single number taken as representative of a list of numbers, usually the sum of the numbers divided by how many numbers are in th ...

sea level
; those limits increase with elevation above sea level, although in mountainous regions there is often no direct view of the true horizon.


Human habitation

Only four million people live north of the Arctic Circle because of the
climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a la ...
; nonetheless, some areas have been settled for thousands of years by
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 ...
, who today make up 10% of the region's population. The largest communities north of the Arctic Circle are situated in Russia, Norway and Sweden:
Murmansk Murmansk ( rus, Му́рманск, p=ˈmurmənsk) is a port city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast in the far Far North (Russia), northwest part of Russia. It sits on both slopes and banks of a modest ria or fjord, Kola Bay, an e ...

Murmansk
(population 295,374),
Norilsk Norilsk ( rus, Нори́льск, p=nɐˈrʲilʲsk, ''Norílʹsk'') is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Soci ...

Norilsk
(178,018),
Tromsø Tromsø (, , ; se, Romsa ; fkv, Tromssa; sv, Tromsö) is a municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative regio ...

Tromsø
(75,638),
Vorkuta Vorkuta (russian: Воркута́; kv, Вӧркута, ''Vörkuta''; Nenets for "the abundance of bears", "bear corner") is a coal Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as stratum, rock strata called coa ...

Vorkuta
(58,133), and
Kiruna (; se, Giron ; fi, Kiiruna ) is the northernmost town A town is a human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the l ...

Kiruna
(22,841).
Rovaniemi Rovaniemi ( , ; sme, Roavvenjárga ; smn, Ruávinjargâ; sms, Ruäʹvnjargg) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ...
(62,667) in Finland is the largest settlement in the immediate vicinity of the Arctic Circle, lying south of the line. In contrast, the largest North American community north of the Arctic Circle,
Sisimiut Sisimiut (), formerly known as Holsteinsborg, is the capital and largest city of the Qeqqata Qeqqata (, ''The Center'', da, Centrum) is a municipality in western Greenland Greenland ( kl, Kalaallit Nunaat, ; da, Grønland, ) is the w ...

Sisimiut
(
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
), has approximately 5,000 inhabitants. In the United States,
Utqiaġvik, Alaska The City of Utqiaġvik ( ik, Utqiaġvik; , ), known as Barrow () from 1901 to 2016, is the largest city (and the borough seat) of the North Slope Borough, Alaska, North Slope Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. Located north of the Arctic Circl ...
is the largest settlement north of the Arctic Circle with about 4,000 inhabitants. The largest such community in Canada is
Inuvik Inuvik (''place of man'') is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada, and hosts the regional office of the Inuvik Region. Inuvik is both a Gwich'in and an Inuvialuit community. The community, like Aklavik, is located in both the Gwich'in ...
in the
Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories (commonly abbreviated as NT or NWT; french: Territoires du Nord-Ouest) is a federal territory A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subd ...

Northwest Territories
, with 3,200 people living there.


Geography

The Arctic Circle is roughly long. The area north of the Circle is about and covers roughly 4% of Earth's surface. The Arctic Circle passes through 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
, the
Scandinavian Peninsula The Scandinavian Peninsula ( sv, Skandinaviska halvön; no, Den skandinaviske halvøy (Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a North Ge ...
,
North Asia North Asia or Northern Asia, also referred to as Siberia, is the northern region of Asia, which is defined in Geography, geographical terms and is coextensive with the Asian part of Russia, and consists of three Russian regions east of the Ural ...
,
Northern America Northern America is the north North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remn ...
, and Greenland. The land within the Arctic Circle is divided among eight countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the United States (
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
), Canada (
Yukon Yukon ( ; ; formerly called Yukon Territory and sometimes referred to as The Yukon) is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three territories. It also is the least populated province or territory in Canada, with a population of 35,874 peo ...

Yukon
,
Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories (commonly abbreviated as NT or NWT; french: Territoires du Nord-Ouest) is a federal territory A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subd ...

Northwest Territories
, and
Nunavut Nunavut ( iu, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ ; ) is the largest and northernmost provinces and territories of Canada, territory of Canada. It was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the ''Nunavut Act'' and the ''Nunavut ...
), Denmark (Greenland), and
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
(where it passes through the small offshore island of Grímsey).


Climate

The climate inside the Arctic Circle is generally cold, but the coastal areas of Norway have a generally mild climate as a result of the
Gulf Stream The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension the North Atlantic Drift The North Atlantic Current (NAC), also known as North Atlantic Drift and North Atlantic Sea Movement, is a powerful warm western boundary current Boundary curren ...
, which makes the ports of northern Norway and northwest Russia ice-free all year long. In the interior, summers can be quite warm, while winters are extremely cold. For example, summer temperatures in
Norilsk Norilsk ( rus, Нори́льск, p=nɐˈrʲilʲsk, ''Norílʹsk'') is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Soci ...

Norilsk
, Russia will sometimes reach as high as , while the winter temperatures frequently fall below .


Sites along the Arctic Circle

Starting at the
prime meridian #REDIRECT Prime meridian#REDIRECT Prime meridian A prime meridian is the meridian (geography), meridian (a line of longitude) in a geographic coordinate system at which longitude is defined to be 0°. Together, a prime meridian and its anti-meri ...

prime meridian
and heading eastwards, the Arctic Circle passes through: File:2016-11-20 01 Arctic Circle marker on the island of Vikingen Norway.jpg, Northern Polar Circle Globe on Vikingen island marking the Arctic Circle in Norway File:Iceland2008-Grimsey.arctic.circle.JPG, Arctic Circle marker on island of Grímsey in Iceland File:Polarkreis inlandsbanan.jpg, Arctic Circle sign by the Inland Line railway, Sweden File:Полярный_круг, Россия.jpg, Arctic Circle sign in the
Republic of Karelia The Republic of Karelia (russian: Респу́блика Каре́лия, Respublika Kareliya, rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə kɐˈrʲelʲɪ(j)ə; krl, Karjalan tazavaldu; fi, Karjalan tasavalta; vep, Karjalan Tazovaldkund), or Karelia (russian: Кар ...
, Russia File:Россия, ЯНАО, Полярный круг..JPG, Arctic Circle sign by the
Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug The Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YaNAO; russian: Яма́ло-Не́нецкий автоно́мный о́круг (ЯНАО), ; yrk, Ямалы-Ненёцие автономной ӈокрук, ) is a federal subjects of Russia, federal su ...
, Russia File:Круиз Якутск - Ленские столбы - Тикси - Якутск, 2017 (364).jpg, A sign in the
Sakha Republic Sakha, also known as Yakutia or Yakutiya,; sah, Саха Сирэ, r= Saqa Sire, p= saˈxa sɪrjə), and officially known as the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) ( rus, Республика Саха (Якутия), r= Respublika Sakha (Yakutiya), p ...
(Yakutia), Russia


See also

* 60th parallel north *
Antarctic Circle 350px, ''Map of the Antarctic with the Antarctic Circle in blue.'' The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the five major circle of latitude, circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. The region south of this circle is known as the An ...

Antarctic Circle
*
Arctic cooperation and politics Arctic cooperation and politics are partially coordinated via the Arctic Council, composed of the eight Arctic nations: the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or Am ...
*
Arctic haze Arctic haze is the phenomenon of a visible reddish-brown springtime haze in the atmosphere at high latitudes in the Arctic due to Anthropogenic hazard, anthropogenic air pollution. A major distinguishing factor of Arctic haze is the ability of its ...
*
Circumpolar star 300px, Circumpolar star trails in a long-exposure photo of several hours. Note that the stars near the celestial pole leave shorter trails with the long exposure. A circumpolar star is a star, as viewed from a given latitude on Earth, that neve ...
*
Scott Polar Research Institute The Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) is a centre for research into the polar regions and glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glacier.html" ;"title="moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner G ...
* Territorial claims in the Arctic *
Tropic of Cancer The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted ...

Tropic of Cancer
*
Tropic of Capricorn The Tropic of Capricorn (or the Southern Tropic) is the circle of latitude A circle of latitude or line of latitude on is an abstract – connecting all locations around Earth (ignoring ) at a given . Circles of latitude are often ...


References


External links


Terra Incognita: Exploration of the Canadian Arctic
Historical essay about early expeditions to the Canadian Arctic, illustrated with maps, photographs and drawings

Download: Epoch v2009.xls (modify D4)

See: Obliquity of the ecliptic {{geographical coordinates Geography of the Arctic Circles of latitude