The Arctic

Located in the very North of the Earth is the Arctic. This area is also said to be above the Arctic Circle. The North Pole is home to the Arctic.

Location of the Arctic

Arctic Circle

The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line that goes around the top of the globe. The Arctic is the area that is located right above this imaginary line. This imaginary line runs parallel to where the equator is. It is found at 66.5 degrees North of the Equator, which is the latitude line on a globe.

Even though the Arctic Circle is an imaginary line, it is a line that is not fixed. So, the sun will sometimes fall under the horizon of the Arctic Circle, at least once a year.

MODIS image of the Arctic


Latitude measure how far north or south a line is. The latitude line is the angle that is between a point of the Earth and the equator.

The Equator is at the latitude of 0 degrees. The North Pole is at a latitude of 90 degrees North.

Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is the ocean of the Arctic that is over 5.5 million square miles. This is almost the same size as Antarctica.

Most of the Arctic Ocean is covered in ice and more than 50% of the ocean stays frozen even when it is summer.

There is an area of the Arctic Ocean called the Arctic Sea and it is an area that is always frozen. The ice here is around 13-foot-thick and it is usually covered with snow.


Some scientists believe that the ice of the Arctic Sea is melting and that there will be no ice on it by the year 2030.

Arctic Ice Cap

The Arctic Ice Cap is the area of the Arctic Ocean that is covered in ice. This is important because it helps to keep the ocean cool and helps to keep it from losing heat.

When the ice reflects the radiation back to the atmosphere, it helps to keep the ice from melting and regulates the temperature.

Some of the ice of the ice caps have already started melting and this causes animals like Polar bears to have to move and find other places to find food.

What Makes Up the Arctic?

The area that makes up the Arctic includes:

  • Canada
  • Russia
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • United States of America
  • Iceland

What is the Arctic Like?

The Arctic is a place that has at least one day of the year that is completely dark. There is also a day of the year that has complete sunlight.

When the Earth tilts a certain way, this is what causes there to be periods of sun and periods of darkness.

The Midnight Sun happens with the day that is completely light, and the Polar Night happens with the day that is completely dark.

Weather of the Arctic

The Arctic is called the Arctic because of the cold temperatures. There have been temperatures that have been as low as negative 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The average temperature for the Arctic is 10 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature only gets above freezing for two to four months. The warmest month is July, but the temperatures still do not get over 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

People of the Arctic

Even though the Arctic is very cold and sometimes dark, many people, more than four million, live there. Some of the people that live in the Arctic are called Inuits. These are indigenous people that have learned a way to survive even though the temperature is so very cold.

The Inuit people consist of people from:

  • Canada
  • Greenland
  • Alaska
  • Yupik
  • Siberia

These people live in towns close to the Arctic Circle and some of these towns include cities in Russia and Norwegian cities.

How Big is the Arctic?

The Arctic is around 20 million kilometers or 7.7 million square miles.

Arctic Tundra

One of the biggest areas that are found in the Arctic Circle is the tundra. A tundra is an area that has very little trees because it is mostly a frozen area.

The soil in the tundra stays frozen and this is called a “permafrost.” The permafrost causes plants and trees from growing and does not allow water to drain off of the area. When these areas warm up, it causes there to be small lakes that form because of there being no good drainage.

What Makes the Arctic Interesting?

The Arctic is a huge ice sheet that sits on top of the land. This was proven in 1958 when a submarine called the USS Nautilus sailed under the Arctic Ocean. This proved that the Arctic is just a huge sheet of ice.

Animals of the Arctic

There are many animals that live in the Arctic and are able to survive the cold temperatures. Some of them include:

  • Walruses
  • Seals
  • Whales
  • Polar Bears
  • Narwhal
  • Squirrels
  • Wolverines
  • Birds
  • Arctic Fox
  • Arctic Hare
  • Beluga Whale
  • Little Auks
  • Guillemots
  • Terns
  • Ptarmigans
  • Puffins
  • Snowy Owl

The animals that live in the Arctic have adapted and most of them have thick coats, thick fatty layers and their bodies have learned to store food for long periods of time.

Plants of the Arctic

Even though temperatures are very cold, there are many plants that grow in the warmer parts of the Arctic. Some of these include:

  • Shrubs
  • Lichens
  • Moss
  • Herbs
  • Dwarf Shrubs
  • Woody Shrub
  • Reindeer Moss

These plants grow low and they grow in clumps so that they can stay protected from things such as wind and this also helps them to be able to get water.

These plants are important because they help to feed the animals but most of the plants are only there around the short summer months.

What Does Arctic Mean?

The word Arctic is from a Greek word that is “Arktos.” The word “Arktos” means bear. This name was not chosen because of the polar bears that live in the Arctic but it was chosen because of two star constellations that are seen in the area, the Ursa Minor which means “little bear,” and Ursa Major which means, “great bear.”

Why is the Artic Important?

The Arctic is an important region because it has around 10% of all of the fresh water of the whole world. Even though the area is mostly frozen, the sun melts some of the ice and makes the water available for drinking.

Another reason the Arctic is important is because it helps to keep the world’s climate at a perfect temperature. When the sun reflects on to the ice of the Arctic, it keeps the area cool and the climate for the world even.

Another reason the Arctic is important is because it has many natural resources that we need such as:

  • Minerals
  • Gases
  • Oil
  • Fish

Is the Artic in Trouble?

One of the things about the Arctic is all of the ice and the ice sheet that is part of the area. Over the years because of the temperatures heating up, some of the Arctic ice has melted.

More Facts About the Arctic:

  • The Narwhal Whale is also called the “Unicorn of the Sea,” because of its large tusk that comes out of the water.
  • Sometimes people define the Arctic as a region that has temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit even in the warmest months.
  • The closer you get to the North Pole, the longer darkness you get in the winter.
  • The Arctic Ocean is almost completely surrounded by some type of land.
  • The North Pole does not belong to any country according to the International Law.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is the Arctic?
    The Arctic is an area in the world that is above the Arctic Circle.
  • What is the weather like in the Arctic?
    The weather in the Arctic is usually very cold with ice and snow all around. Sometimes the weather can get up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but this is not for very long.
  • What is interesting about the Arctic?
    One interesting thing about the Arctic is that they have one day of all darkness and one day of all light where it is dark and light for 24 hours those days. This happens once or twice each year.
  • What is the Arctic Circle?
    The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line that helps to locate where the Arctic is.
  • Do people live in the Arctic?
    Even though the weather is super cold and it is hard to find food and resource, there are more than 4 million people that live in the Arctic.