A place with surprises

The Arctic is a very cold region located in the northern or north part of our planet and surrounding the North Pole. Not to be confused with the Arctic Circle (66 ° 33’N), as this is just an imaginary parallel line (as well as Ecuador) outlining the Arctic.

The Arctic includes not only Greenland and northern Canada, but also includes parts of Russia, Alaska, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, the neighboring islands and the Arctic Ocean.

Where does the word Arctic come from?

The word Arctic comes from the Greek ‘arktikos’ (near the bear) and ‘arktos’ meaning bear.
This refers to the constellation Ursa Major that is visible throughout the year in the northern hemisphere of the earth and therefore, the Arctic is “close” to it.

Arctic Landscape

The Arctic belongs to the Tundra biome; the landscape looks very wide and desolate at first glance, with no trees and no sign of animal life on the surface, but contrary to it, is a large area full of marine, terrestrial, and even aerial bodies, human settlements exist in some areas.
The floor is covered by permafrost, i.e., layers and layers of thick permanent ice formed in the Arctic for more than 800,000 years.
The vast oceans are covered with sea ice, which are layers of floating ice of several meters thick. Sea ice in March reaches up to 15 million km2 and 6.5 million in September.
The effect of climate change that exists today increasingly reduces the extent of the ice, so it is estimated that in the short term it will disappear completely during the summer season, severely affecting part of the Arctic fauna as well as regional and global climate .

Arctic map

Arctic location / Photo courtesy of NASA

Prehistoric Animals in the Arctic

For millions of years there have been many species that have gone through the Arctic regions. Some managed to evolve over time into new animals we know today; others went extinct for various reasons and a few migrated to other latitudes more suitable to their lifestyle and needs.

Fossil discoveries found deep underground, have claimed the presence of dinosaurs that lived in the region about 70 million years ago. As an example we can mention the Chasmosaurus, Hypacrosaurus, Troodon, and Edmontosaurus. Studies show that these four species migrated to north during the summer and in winter periods returned to warmer climates.
The discovery of fossils that demonstrate the existence of dinosaurs in the Arctic was a big turn for science, it is known that reptiles are cold blooded and therefore live in jungle, tropical or semi-desert environments, not in cold environments.

The mammoth is a slightly more modern example. In 2013, in a research conducted on the Grand Liajovski island, located in the Arctic Ocean, were found the remains of a female woolly mammoth that died at 60 years of age more than 10,000 years ago. The most surprising finding was that muscle tissue remained and liquid blood remained intact. The researchers considered extremely surprising and useful, as saying that the genetic material extracted from the mammoth could be cloned.

The Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis) and the great auk (Pinguinus impennis) are two other examples of animals that not many years ago were part of the Arctic environment. It is said that of the Eskimo curlew also called polar plover, there are still some living specimens, however, no one has been able to verify its existence for 50 years. The extinction of both species was caused by the most fearsome predator of all time, man.

Amazing polar phenomena, endemic fauna, unique landscapes and balance in global temperature, is part of what gives us this wonderful natural paradise. Since ancient times, man has sought ways to get to that part of the planet to study it and craftily use the natural resources that the land provides, unfortunately technological advancement and human overpopulation are chronically affecting the Arctic ecosystem, so that if we fail to act in time, all over the world will suffer the consequences.