Primarily an ocean surrounded by land, the Arctic is about the size of the continental United States. The tips of three continents – North America, Europe, and Asia – penetrate its boundaries, enabling humans to populate the lands within the Arctic Circle. Arctic ice helps regulate Earth’s climate by reflecting light and heat back to space. It provides a complex habitat abundant with life, from small organisms at the base of the food chain to sea mammals and polar bears.
Central Intelligence Agency, Courtesy of the University of Texas.
Aboriginal peoples, including the Inuit, have lived in the region for thousands of years. Their wisdom and survival skills helped many explorers survive in this extreme but mesmerizing landscape.
COOL FACT: Sea ice grows each winter and creates haul-out spots for seals and hunting grounds for polar bears.
Top Banner image: Camille Seaman, Grand Pinnacle Iceberg, East Greendland, from Last Iceberg, 2006