What Is The Arctic?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,500
    Science expert Emerald Robinson explains what the Arctic is.

    Emerald Robinson: 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 66 degrees and 33 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 20 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, 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.