The Arctic Ocean – The ocean around the North Pole is the smallest and shallowest ocean in the world, the Arctic Ocean. It is surrounded by the northern parts of Eurasia and North America. The Arctic Ocean and it’s marginal (the Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara, Barents, White, Greenland, Beaufort, Bering and Norwegian seas) seas are changing as the Arctic exhibits a strong response to global change.
The Arctic Ocean may be the smallest of the Earth’s oceans having a little more than 1/6 of the area of the Indian Ocean, its area of 14.09 million square kilometres is five times larger than the largest sea, the Mediterranean.
The Arctic was derived from the Greek word, “Arktros” meaning bear.
The geophysical data makes the tectonic history of the Arctic Basin in the Cenozoic Era be largely known. Aeromagnetic and seismic data shows that the Eurasia Basin was made by seafloor spreading along the axis of the Nansen-Gakkel Ridge. Understanding the origin of the Arctic Ocean’s basins and ridges is important for recreating the paleoclimatic evolution of the ocean and its relevance to global environmental changes.
The resolution determined by rates of deposition of Arctic Ocean’s sediments records the physical environment, climate and ecosystems on time scales. These were done by getting samples and coring them. Out of the numerous sediment corings done, only four penetrated deeply enough to predate the onset of climatic conditions. The oldest record is that at least part of the Arctic Ocean was warm and biologically even prior to 40 million years ago. No available seafloor cores however have sampled sediments from the time within 35 to 3 million years ago.
The arctic is in a polar climate. Polar night, cold and stable conditions, and clear skies all characterize winter. Its surface water temperature remains consistent near the freezing point of seawater. Although it consists of saltwater, its salinity is less than the other oceans. Freezing occurs only when the temperature reaches -1.8 °C.
Animal and Plant Life
The Arctic Ocean is home to whales, walruses, polar bears, and seals. The area having a fragile ecosystem has added to making these animals being endangered. There isn’t much plant life in this region but phytoplankton. These tiny marine plants are the start of most marine food chains. In summer, when the days are longer, they can photosynthesize for a long time each day and they reproduce quickly. On the opposite, they struggle to get enough sunlight to survive during winter. There are classes of algae and small animals that live within and underneath the sea ice.
Mineral and animal resources from the Arctic Ocean provide utility and economic benefits to humans. This ocean contains substantial amounts of minerals, boreal forest, and marine life. 22% of the world’s oil and natural gas are estimated by the US Geological Survey to be located beneath the Arctic. It also holds large quantities of minerals, including phosphate, bauxite, iron ore, and nickel. These are mainly used in industrialized economies.
The mountainous areas and low population also mean that villages in the Arctic often are self suppliant on electricity through hydropower.
Last Updated on December 10, 2021