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The red line indicates the 10°C isotherm in July, commonly used to define the Arctic region border
Image:Arctica surface.jpg
Satellite image of the Arctic surface

The Arctic is the area around the Earth's North Pole, opposite the Antarctican area around the South Pole. The Arctic includes parts of Canada, Greenland (a territory of Denmark), Russia, United States (Alaska), Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as the Arctic Ocean.

There are numerous definitions of the Arctic region. The boundary is generally considered to be north of the Arctic Circle (66° 33’N), which is the limit of the midnight sun and the polar night. Other definitions are based on climate and ecology, such as the 10°C (50°F) July isotherm, which also roughly corresponds to the tree line in most of the Arctic. Socially and politically, the Arctic region includes the northern territories of the eight Arctic states, including Lapland, although by natural science definitions much of this territory is considered subarctic.

The Arctic is mostly a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless, frozen ground. It teems with life, including organisms living in the ice, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals and human societies.

The Arctic region is, by its nature, a unique area. The cultures in the region and the Arctic indigenous peoples have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions. From the perspective of the physical, chemical and biological balance in the world, the Arctic region is in a key position. It reacts sensitively particularly to changes in the climate, which reflect extensively back on the global state of the environment. From the perspective of research into climatic change, the Arctic region is considered an early warning system.

The name Arctic comes from the ancient Greek αρκτος, meaning 'bear', and is a reference to the constellations of the Great Bear and Little Bear, which are located near the North Star.


[edit] Pollution

Nature in the Arctic is comparatively clean although there are certain ecologically difficult localized pollution problems that present a serious threat to people’s health living around these pollution sources. Due to the prevailing worldwide sea and air currents, the Arctic area is the fall out region for long-range transport pollutants and in some places the concentrations exceed the levels of densely populated urban areas. An example of this is the phenomena Arctic Haze, which is commonly blamed on long-range pollutants.

[edit] Nature and natural resources

The Arctic region includes sizeable potential natural resources (oil, gas, minerals, forest - if the subarctic is included - and fish) to which modern technology and the opening up of Russia have given significant new opportunities. The interest of the tourism industry in the cold and exotic Arctic is also on the increase. This is for example, seen in the rise in international tourism as a significant opportunity but also as a threat.

The Arctic region is one of the last and most extensive continuous wilderness areas in the world and its significance in preserving biodiversity and genotypes is considerable. The increasing presence of people fragments vital habitats. The Arctic is particularly susceptible to the abrasion of groundcover and to the disturbance of the rare reproduction places of the animals that are characteristic to the region.

External link: AMAP - the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

[edit] Environmental impact assessment

From the perspective of positive development in the Arctic region, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is in a key position. In the Arctic region, it is important that in a process, special attention is given to assessing social impacts. It is generally known that scientific information focused on the Arctic region is insufficient, so the actors conducting an EIA do not get sufficient material in order to compile a precise assessment.

Developing a dialogue between new actors in the region, business life and the local population is important so that mutual understanding and often conflicting needs for development can be improved. Improving access to information by local inhabitants, well functioning participatory planning, and ensuring the optimum use of its results are part of this activity. The horizontal processing of administration by different sectors in society that is required for an EIA necessitates for its support the production of strong multidisciplinary information. Managing and analyzing the above-mentioned multidimensional and demanding process requires combining many scientific fields and methods and further scientific analysis and development of functional models.

[edit] International cooperation and politics

The Arctic region is one of the important focuses of international political interest. International Arctic cooperation got underway on a broad scale well over ten years ago. The International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), hundreds of scientists and specialists of the Arctic Council, the Barents Council and its regional cooperation have compiled high quality information on the Arctic. Canada (citing the Law of the Sea) claims control over the waterways throughout the area.

[edit] A strategic military region

Some countries claim the Arctic has never been under the political control of any nation, although some nations' militaries have attached a strategic importance to the region. Canada has an outpost in the region (Alert), and has long laid claim to much of the Arctic. Several recent excursions by the Canadian navy have taken place, with more planned to underline Canadian sovereignty in the region. In the 1950s and 1960s, the arctic was often used by submarines to test new weapons, sonar equipment, and depth testing.

During the Cold War, the Arctic region was extensively monitored by the United States military and NATO, since it was believed that the first warnings of a nuclear strike from the Soviet Union would have been indicated by ICBMs launched over the North Pole towards the United States. The United States placed such importance on the region that two military decorations, the Arctic Service Ribbon and Coast Guard Arctic Service Medal, were established for military duty performed within the Arctic Circle.

In 2006, Envisat and EOS Aqua revealed a polar route connecting Spitzbergen and Siberia. [1] Increased Russian activity has also been detected though this can be attributed to the Chelyuskin icebreaker wreck expeditionary force. [2]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links


cy:Arctig da:Arktis de:Arktis et:Arktika es:Ártico fa:شمالگان fr:Arctique ko:북극 hr:Arktik id:Arktik is:Norðurslóðir it:Artide lv:Arktika nl:Arctis ja:北極 no:Arktis nn:Arktis pl:Arktyka pt:Ártico ru:Арктика simple:Arctic sl:Arktika fi:Arktinen alue sv:Arktis th:อาร์กติก zh:北極


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