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Arctic Facts - The Most Interesting Facts About the Arctic
The Arctic is the desert of the north. It's cold and dry, long stretches of its land seemingly carrying on forever. It's amazing for there to life there, let alone countless different habitats that only exist in the great north. The fact that humans have a life up there is a testament to our adaptability, and longevity on this planet; we can pretty much survive anywhere.
There are many things people don't know about the Arctic; many facts that remain a mystery; perhaps we don't care, or just don't know where to look. The Arctic is a dark and mysterious place, the cold winds blowing with them knowledge that has been secret for thousands of years - the eddies and flows of it all are contagious, the more we learn, the more we want to learn.
It's either all light or all dark - two extremes, always constant. It doesn't matter which one you prefer: the Arctic will be ready for you.
Arctic Facts - Habitation
The majority of the Arctic land is inhabitable; most of it is just miles and miles of permafrost - the frozen layer of ice that always exists above the ground - and very little vegetation. That's not to say there isn't any. Humans have shed little of their existence on the Arctic tundra, and thus much of what you see there is what you get; in other words we haven't had the opportunity to taint the wilderness yet. It's one the last intact ecosystems on the planet.
In the extreme climate of the Arctic comes extreme survival and extreme beauty. It's Nature's wonder and strength at its finest. A lone flower will bloom out of the cracks in a seemingly stark and empty tundra; a pack of caribou will emerge from a terrifying blizzard; catipillars that live through fourteen summers before finally becoming a butterfly; it's all amazing.
Much of life in the Arctic is a classic example of Darwinian evolution. The only life to survive is the life that has adapted the best to the environment or the life that is continuing to adapt. All vegetation in the arctic have compressed growing seasons, growing rapidly in the few months of spring, unlike the rest of the world where they months to grow. Plants that can live in the snow have traits which help them survive, such as being able to withstand strong winds, or extreme cold. It's a simple cycle which is strikingly complex.
The most northern human habitat is Russian Borneo Ice Station at 89° North, on the Russian side.
Arctic Facts - Temperature
- The average winter temperature is minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
- During summer, the temperature can climb to plus 50 degrees.
Arctic Facts - Light and Dark
Everyone knows the biggest secret about the Arctic. We all know that in the summer it has almost 24 hours of sunlight, and the in the winter it has almost 24 hours of darkness. it's the extreme of the latitudes, a change in the trend in what our species is used to, an alien world perhaps. We have given the phenoma the term, a polar day.
There are no human settlements in Antarctic, but the idea is the same there as it is in the Arctic. In the summer the sun won't set for 73 days - generally it's from April 19th to August 23rd. At the North and South poles the sun only sets once a year. Imagine that for a moment: the sun is always on horizon, watching, for 363 days of the year. It's a place where you would feel closer to the universe, the stars and black of it all just above you, always.
When the sun doesn't set it still moves around the horizon. it follows the same movement the sun in lower longitude does (it obviously should, the arctic is part of planet Earth), reaching it's highest point in the heat of the day, and lowest at night. The only difference is the vertical movement in the Arctic is much less than for the rest of us.
The Arctic also has days known as White Nights. White Nights are when the sun drops just below the horizon, giving the Arctic landscape a little bit of light. It's like a constant twilight, and many communities have festivals for these type of days.
Arctic Facts - Sea and Ice
The ice in the Arctic is its most important attribute. The miles of glaciers replenish the ocean as the atmosphere warms (which isn't a good thing) and gives of gallons and gallons of water to drink. It gives transportation and homes for walrus, polar bears, arctic fox; it's the foundation of the Arctic that without, well, it wouldn't really by the Arctic but just another ocean.
The ice in the Arctic is also extremely vital in measuring climate change, which has become a big problem over the last decade. NASA can, by measuring the thickness of the Arctic ice, how much temperature in changing world wide, how much of glaciers have melted, and how high the ocean levels have risen. In the last decade much of the ice shelf has been slowly destroyed; cracks larger and larger fill its landscape, further amplifying the melting process. It's a strong foreshadowing for the rest of the planet.
There is a big difference, however, between the ice in the Arctic, and the ice in Antarctica. In the Arctic the ice floats on the ocean - The Arctic ice sheet is four times as large as the state of Texas - and so if they melted the sea levels would not be affected. In Antarctica, if the ice melted, the oceans would rise 200 feet.
Not the Coldest
The Arctic actually doesn't have the coldest spot in the Northern Hemisphere. That belongs to a far east region of Russia which can get 10 degrees colder than the coldest region of the Arctic.
Unlike Antarctica, the Arctic actually has human habitation. Norilsk, Russia is the most northern city in the world, and has an average temperature of 20 degrees below 0.
Arctic Facts - Temperature
The Arctic, just like Antarctica, in the coldest region on the planet. It is known in having cold and long winters, as well short cool summers. Many areas of the Arctic are covered in ice all year round, and nearly every part of the Arctic has at least one period with some ice. The average temperature in January range from -40 to 0 degrees Celsius, and in the deep of winter temperatures can drop as low as -50.
One of the amazing things about the Arctic is that it is governed by the Ocean. What I mean by this is that the ocean can never drop below -2 degrees Celsius and this keep the temperatures around the Arctic relatively warm; this compared to Antarctica which drastically colder.
Arctic Facts - Mammals
It's amazing that, even with the harsh climate and temperatures the Arctic possess, animals and mammals can still reside there. It's more than amazing actually; it's improbable.
The Caribou are members of the deer family; they have very thick fur, and hairs that are not very dense, making them invariable to the cold. They travel across the tundra in large herbs, eating the green plants that can survive the permafrost.
Arctic wolves are a unique breed of wolf. They live on the most northern islands in the Arctic; they are smaller than most wolves, and have thick undercoat of soft fur mixed with an overcoat of long, thick fur. They hunt in small packs, mostly hunting the Caribou.
The Wolverine. Yes, it exists. And yes: it is pretty cool. About the size of a bear cub, the wolverine is a strong animal. It is common in Nunavut, where it lives on the rocky out cropping in the region. It is short with powerful legs; it looks like a small bear from a far.
The Arctic fox is one of the coolest mammals that live in the Arctic. They are nearly impossible to see in the snow, their white fur a perfect blend for the Arctic. The coat changes color in the summer, turning into a brown color. If there is a enough food they can have up to eleven hubs; the reason for this is that many of the cubs won't survive through the harsh winters.
The Arctic Hare lives more north than any other Hare. On some occasions hundreds upon hundreds will gather together to stay warm.
Polar Bears. The kings of the Arctic. With a layer of blubber to keep them warm in the coldest of temperatures, the polar bear are built for the Arctic. They camouflage well in the tundra, making it easy for them to hunt seals. They dig dens to hibernate through most of the winters
The Walrus has one of the biggest... I think you know where I'm going so i'll stop. They also have to eat thousands of krill and shellfish to survive each day.