The Arctic is the area above the Arctic Circle. The meaning of the word arctic comes from Greek and means “near or about the Bear.” One of these facts is that it’s cold there. It’s also dark for a long time each year. The wintertime is called “the Polar Night,” and the summertime is “the Polar Day.”
The Arctic Ocean borders Canada, Greenland, Russia, and the United States. Its water is freezing. But it’s sometimes warm because of the Gulf Stream. The Arctic has a lot of ice, and there are almost no animals in it. Only a few birds can survive there. It also has a lot of snow, but it does not stay on the ground for long because it’s cold. It quickly freezes to ice and gets blown away.
The Arctic is well known for its oil and gas resources. Since the 1990s, there have been large oil drilling projects in the Arctic Ocean. At first, these projects were just in the North Sea, off the coast of Norway and Russia. Now they are also happening in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia. There are also huge areas that contain natural gas in the Arctic Ocean, especially at sea level where there is permafrost. This gas can be used to make electricity.
The Arctic is also important ecologically because it contains much marine life that can’t be found anywhere else. For example, there are whales in the Arctic. It’s also home to millions of krill at the bottom of the ocean. Krill are essential for many species in the sea, including whales. The krill pollinate diatoms when they eat them, and they are also an important food source for seals and birds. The polar bear has its home in the Arctic, too. Polar bears live on seal meat and nothing else.
The Arctic is home to many cultures and languages. The Inuit, the Yupik, and the Aleuts all live there. The Inuit live in tents and houses made of hides. They hunt seals and walrus with spears and clubs. They also build tall wooden houses in the summertime to not freeze when it’s cold outside. But in the wintertime, they move into igloos made from ice blocks that are filled with snow. It’s frigid in these houses, even when it’s summertime outside. Many big cities in the Arctic have high-rise buildings built on snow that melts each summertime because of sunlight. There are many different languages in the Arctic, even though most people speak English.
The Arctic is also essential for our future. Because there are so many large cities with skyscrapers, too many trees are cut down in the south, so it’s not always safe to live there. It is also expected that people will move more to the north in the future because of wars and other problems in the south. We can see that in Sweden where they have built more houses outside Stockholm than they used to. The northern part of Russia is also growing because it’s safe there, even though it might be hard with all that snow and ice outside in wintertime. Russia has even planned a new city built up in the Arctic Ocean after 2020 or 2030.