Unlike Antarctic, which is just a barren desert, the Arctic is relatively teeming with life. The Arctic Ocean is situated in the Arctic, and the most visible feature of it is that the Ocean is often covered in ice throughout the year.
Surprisingly, although it looks barren, several creatures flourish here, and the region is very rich in natural resources. As a result, people have exploited the Arctic for many centuries, and the toll it had already taken on the fragile environment is increasingly apparent now.
The ice cover is quickly shrinking. That will bring severe effect on the environment of our planet. The shrinking ice pack is foremost rising in ozone layer depletion and global sea levels.
Scientists believe that if the current level of meltdown progresses, then the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in the following 4-5 decades disrupting ocean current patterns and leading to the adverse effect of climate change.
So, the survival of human beings fully depends on the existence of this ocean. The Arctic is arising from the cold. We have all seen some pictures of starving polar bears, only staring bleakly at the retreating pack ice on which their existence depends on. But as the polar ice cap shrinks, the ocean basin is creating a way for human activities as well.
As its massive economic resources become progressively accessible, it will probably become a cauldron of political conflict and commercial potential.
Here are 11 interesting facts you did not know about the Arctic, but probably you should:
- Despite being the smallest of the five Oceans, the Arctic Ocean covers approximately 14 million square kilometers and is usually frozen throughout the year.
- Polar bears only exist in the Arctic and are usually the largest land predators worldwide. The biggest polar bear on records was a male that weighed 1,004 kg and was 4 meters long.
- Penguins DO NOT exist in the Arctic; you will have to head south to find them!
- The North Pole and the large part of the Arctic have only 6 months of light every year, which starts around April. The remaining 6 months are progressively dark. The coldest ever recorded temperature in the Arctic is about -68°C (-90°F).
- Even at the period when the sea is at its winter maximum, the ten lowest measurements recorded since 1979 have occurred in the past ten years.
- In the past, about ¾ of Arctic sea ice was a multi-year ice(thick ice which has built up over several years). Currently, it only accounts for 25-30% of the full size, while the rest is a thin ice layer which cracks more easily, according to Walt Mier of the NSIDC.
- Melting glaciers are considered to account for about half of the increase in the sea levels observed currently. The Greenland Ice Sheet only contributes almost 30% of the total amount from glaciers to the rising seas.
- Several experts believe that the Arctic will now be ice-free soon, even though estimates vary. The Met Office has said does not predict this to occur until 2030, but several others believe it could occur sooner.
- The Arctic sea ice usually fluctuates as it melts during summer months and extremely freezes during winter. In the last September, the region covered by Arctic ice shrunk only 1.32 million square miles- the lowest on record.
- The Arctic ice is not only covering a smaller area but also getting thinner. Researchers now believe that Arctic ice lost approximately 36% of its volume from 2003-2012 when taking measurements in the autumn.
- The Arctic area contains some parts of the following countries: Greenland, Russia, USA, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden. All of these countries alongside Denmark, jointly administer the region through Arctic Council.