What are the Arctic Ice Caps?
• The Polar Cap is the frozen waters of the Arctic Ocean, and the
permantently frozen land masses located north of the boundary
known as the Arctic Circle. A significant percentage of the Arctic
Ocean is frozen year round, and are referred to as the Arctic Ice Cap.
• The Arctic Circle is currently located at approximately 66 degrees
latitude north of the Equator. However, this location is based on the
tilt of the Earth, and can vary up to 2 degrees over thousands of yeas.
• The Artic Circle is the upper most point of the Suns travel during the
Earths seasonal transitions. Above this latitude, there is a period of
time in the Winter where the Sun never rise above the horizon.
Equally, for an equal period of time in the Summer, around the
Summer equinox, the Sun never sets, and is above the horizon 24
hours a day.
Life in the Arctic Circle
The Arctic region of Earth is historically a bitter cold environment that is
capped by formidable ice and snow, and is enveloped in total darkness
during the Winter months. Despite these harsh conditions, the Arctic
ecosystem is teeming with varied and complex life.
From plankton, algae, jellyfish, fish, whales, walrus, polar bears, and man,
the arctic ecosystem is as varied and dependent on a stable environment,
as any other on Earth.
Percentage wise, relatively few people actually live within the Arctic Circle.
Those that do, are generally descendant of the tribal peoples that settled
in the regions after the crossings of land bridge.
Major Biotic Components
The Arctic ecosystem has a unique, complex food web that is
fashioned by its distinctive plankton, animal species, and
Man (to a slight extent)
Major Abiotic Components
• Ice and Snow
– Due to the reflectivity of the snow & ice, combined with the low angle that sunlight comes in, the majority
of the heat energy from the Sun is not absorbed by the Earth and is returned to space.
– As the tilt of the Earth greatly effects the amount of light and energy that the region absorbs, during the
Winter months, the Arctic region will go months without any sunlight at all, while during the Summer, the
opposite it the case, and the region will have 24 hours of Sun.
– The Arctic Circle is for all intents and purposes, a desert due the arid conditions and lack of precipitation.
– Winds in the Arctic are typically light overall, however there are more storms, with higher winds in the
Russian Arctic than there are in the Canadian Arctic. In the Winter, winds can reach hurricane strength,
and scour the existing snow pack, exposing areas of thin snow & ice, while creating large drifts in sheltered
What Impact Have Humans Had On The
Arctic Ice Caps?
The Polar Ice Cap is melting.
– As of Sept 16, 2012, the Arctic Ice cap was the lowest point on record.
– The yellow line outlines the average minimum extent over the last 30 years.
More CO2 has been found in the ice cores for the last 100 years, than in
any other time in recent history.
A new “lake” has formed at the North Pole every year since 2003, as the
How have Humans effected “Climate
• Burning of fossil fuels
– Fossil fuels are the decomposed remains of ancient organic
– The most common form of fossil fuels would be petroleum oil,
that is the remains of the dinosaur and other animal and plant
life, that has been buried beneath layers of the Earths surface.
Over time, this material decomposes under the constant
pressure and heat, and turns into fuels such as petroleum (oil),
coal, and natural gas.
– Excavation of these fuels has drastically increased since the
“Industrial Revolution,” due to the need to power the
mechanisms of the modern word.
How have Humans effected “Climate
– Deforestation is the act of clearing large