January 15, 2013

What is the Arctic?

Hi, I’m Emerald Robinson, and in this “what is” video, we’re going to explore the Earth’s North Pole, more formally called, “The Arctic.”

The Arctic, by definition includes the Arctic Ocean as well as parts of the countries that border it. These include Canada, Russia, Denmark, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and America’s 50th state, Alaska. The Arctic’s southern boundary is defined by  the Arctic Circle, marked at sixty six degrees and thirty three minutes North in latitude. The Arctic can also be defined as the continuous area in which the average temperature of the year’s warmest month remains below fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

The Arctic’s climate is generally dry, with precipitation usually averaging less than twenty inches per year. Because of low precipitation and cold temperatures, the people and wildlife that dwell there have had to adapt to the environment.

In the Arctic, the soil a few inches below the surface is always frozen. This is called permafrost, and helps define the type of land that makes up the Arctic, which is called “tundra.” Permafrost and a short growing season limit Arctic plant life to short shrubs, grasses, and mosses.

Arctic animal life is surprisingly diverse – hares, caribou, muskox, foxes, and wolves dominate the land, while the sea teems with fish of all kinds, seals, walrus, and many types of whales.

Humans make use of the Arctic’s many natural resources, which include fossil fuels like oil and natural gas, minerals in the earth’s crust, and fish and other seafood in its oceans.

The Arctic is shrinking. Due to climate change, the circle in which temperatures stay below fifty degrees Fahrenheit gets smaller every year. In fact, some scientists even predict that there will be a complete loss of Arctic ice within the next one hundred years.

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