The Arctic - The Arctic tundra is a vast area of stark landscape, which is frozen for much of the year. The soil there is frozen from 25-90 cm (9.8-35.4 inches) down, and it is impossible for trees to grow. Instead, bare and sometimes rocky land can only support low growing plants such as moss, heath, and lichen. There are two main seasons, winter and summer, in the polar Tundra areas. During the winter it is very cold and dark, with the average temperature around −28 °C (−18 °F), sometimes dipping as low as −50 °C (−58 °F). However, extreme cold temperatures on the tundra do not drop as low as those experienced in taiga areas further south (for example, Russia's and Canada's lowest temperatures were recorded in locations south of the treeline). During the summer, temperatures rise somewhat, and the top layer of the permafrost melts, leaving the ground very soggy. The tundra is covered in marshes, lakes, bogs and streams during the warm months. Generally daytime temperatures during the summer rise to about 12 °C (54 °F) but can often drop to 3 °C (37 °F) or even below freezing. Arctic tundras are sometimes the subject of habitat conservation programs. In Canada and Russia, many of these areas are protected through a national Biodiversity Action Plan.
The tundra is a very windy area, with winds often blowing upwards at 48–97 km/h (30-60 miles an hour). However, in terms of precipitation, it is desert-like, with only about 15–25 cm (6–10 inches) falling per year (the summer is typically the season of maximum precipitation). During the summer, the permafrost thaws just enough to let plants grow and reproduce, but because the ground below this is frozen, the water cannot sink any lower, and so the water forms the lakes and marshes found during the summer months. Although precipitation is light, evaporation is also relatively minimal.
The Climate of the Arctic
is characterized broadly by long, cold winters and short, cool summers. There is a large amount of variability in climate
across the Arctic
, but all regions experience extremes of solar radiation
in both summer and winter. Some parts of the Arctic are covered by ice (sea ice
, glacial ice
, or snow
) year-round, and nearly all parts of the Arctic experience long periods with some form of ice on the surface. Average January temperatures range from about −40 to 0 °C (−40 to +32 °F), and winter temperatures can drop below −50 °C (−58 °F) over large parts of the Arctic. Average July temperatures range from about −10 to +10 °C (14 to 50 °F), with some land areas occasionally exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) in summer.
The Arctic consists of ocean that is nearly surrounded by land. As such, the climate of much of the Arctic is moderated by the ocean water, which can never have a temperature below −2 °C (28 °F). In winter, this relatively warm water keeps the North Pole from being the coldest place in the Northern Hemisphere, and it is also part of the reason that Antarctica is so much colder than the Arctic. In summer, the presence of the near-by water keeps coastal areas from warming as much as they might otherwise, just as it does in temperate regions with maritime climates.
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen
(Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈɾuːɑl ˈɑmʉnsən]
), (July 16, 1872 – c.
June 18, 1928) was a Norwegian explorer
of polar regions
. He led the first Antarctic
expedition to reach the South Pole
between 1910 and 1912. He was also the first person to reach both the North and South Poles. He is known as the first to traverse the Northwest Passage
. He disappeared in June 1928 while taking part in a rescue mission
. With Douglas Mawson
, Robert Falcon Scott
, and Ernest Shackleton
, Amundsen was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration
In 1903, Amundsen led the first expedition to successfully traverse the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (something explorers had been attempting since the days of Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, and Henry Hudson), with six others in a 47 ton steel seal hunting vessel, Gjøa.
Tookoolito, from an 1862 engraving
- Even in our day, science suspects beyond the Polar seas, at the very circle of the Arctic Pole, the existence of a sea which never freezes and a continent which is ever green.