The Arctic - Regional Analysis Essay

This essay has a total of 2401 words and 12 pages.

The Arctic - Regional Analysis

The Arctic is located in the uppermost region of the northern hemisphere. The region
consists of of the area around Greenland, USSR, Canada and Alaska (refer to appendices
Fig.1). The Arctic is mostly covered by frozen ice all year long. This region also
surrounds the Arctic Ocean.

So far the Artic is a naive environment, humans have not yet fully explored the region.
But as people search for the resource, more and more people will move into to the area to
take what they can, this can tip the balance of the environment, resulting in pollution
and destruction of this once perfect environment if the proper management steps are not in
place ahead of the rush.

Physical Geography
The Arctic region is located across seven countries and covers an area of 10.4 million
square miles, in which Siberia covers eight million square miles, which is bigger than
Canada and the United States combined. One third of Canada is within the Arctic, among it
over 1.2 million square miles are taiga and tundra, and 0.7 million of it is the Yukon and
the Northwest Territories. Greenland covers 0.8 million square miles. Alaska covers 0.6
million square miles. Sapmi is the region where the indigenous people in Scandinavia
lives, it occupies the smallest area with approximately 0.3 million square miles.

Polar climate describes the Arctic, which means much of this area has a freezing cold
climate and covered with ice all year. Harsh winters, low temperatures, and little snow or
rainfall characterizes the arctic climate. In winter the days are shorter because the
North Pole faces away from the sun, the sun does not set till midsummer and it is only
strong enough to warm the top layer of the earth. Three feet below the surface the ground
stays frozen. Frozen ground, called permafrost, covers most of this region. The shallow
layer is called the active layer, because this layer freezes and thaws throughout the
year. In the summer the active layer can thaw just long enough for plants and
microorganisms to grow. The thickness of the frozen ground below this active layer varies
from a few feet to hundreds of feet.

The Arctic Circle is the border of a zone where the sun doesn’t rise at least one day in
winter and never sets during at least one day in summer. The North Pole is not the coldest
spot in the Arctic because the ocean moderates its climate. Oymyakon in northeastern
Siberia holds the record low temperature of -68° C (-90° F). The coldest recorded
temperature for North America is -65° C (-85° F), at the city Snag in Yukon Territory. The
low precipitation averages less than 250 mm (10 in) per year (refer to appendices Fig.2),
the moisture being received in almost all locations. Regardless of their distance from
industrialized areas, smog like haze sometimes blankets the Polar Regions.

The Arctic area is a cold desert and is mostly flat land from the end of the forest to the
ocean. This landscape is a barren place (refer to appendices Fig.3). Rocks are scattered
across the ground and the constant freezing and thawing breaks the rocks into smaller
pieces. Trees cannot grow in this region because the soil is always frozen from the cold
weather. Only small, strong plants are able to survive in the arctic. Plants grow close to
the ground where they find protection from cold winds. Over time, plants adapt, so they
can get as much sunshine and water as possible for making food. The animals that live on
the tundra rely on these plants for food.

Economic Activities

Industry and the Artic.
This land of the Arctic was considered useless and only hospitable to those native to it,
but once large amounts of oil and fish had been found there was a rush of interest in the

For thousands of years people have been fishing to meet their own needs in the Arctic but
only recently it becomes commercialized, professional fishermen are taking all kinds of
fish including whales and seals. Some of these fishermen have become so good at their job
that the government had to put a limit or even stop the capture of certain animals. In
Alaska, fishing provides more jobs than any other industry. Fishing is now done on a very
large scale using the latest technology.

There are many mineral deposits within the Artic Circle:
In Russia: nickel, iron ore, apatite, diamonds, gold, tin, coal, mica, and tungsten.
In Sweden: iron ore.
In Greenland: lead, zinc, molybdenum and cryolite.
In Spits Bergen: coal.
Canada: uranium, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, tungsten and iron ore.

The digging out of minerals would disturb the habitats of animal and can also harm the environment.

Industry that is designed to make minerals, produce lot waste products that are harmful to
the environment of the Artic. Because of this there are no very large industries in the
Arctic. However Russia, Canada, Greenland and Iceland have several small manufacturing
plants there.

The conifer forest at the edge of the Arctic region is another important resource.
Forestry is a major industry in Arctic Russia, Sweden and Finland. The government of these
countries gives financial support to it because it provides a lot of employment in the
arctic areas.

The largest industry in the Artic is oil. The rush began in 1968 when a large oil field
was discovered, there was a great deal of protest about the development of the oil field
because of the environment concern, but the development went ahead.

Extracted oil from the field makes its way through a 1300-kilometer pipeline to Port
Valdez. Although steps were taken to limit the pipelines affecting on the environment it
still disrupts the migration of caribou.

In 1989 the super tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground, spilled millions of gallons of crude
oil into the Prince William Sound (refer to appendices Fig.4). In a week workers counted
24000 Dead Sea birds and 1000 sea otters. The effects of the slick were felt throughout
the food chain from photo plankton to bears. The Exxon company funded the clean up but
there was no compensation for the hundreds of people that lost their job as a result of
the slick.

Social Patterns
Outsiders think the Arctic as a barren, inhospitable and largely unexplored tracts of
wilderness. The arctic region is home to a various number on indigenous peoples who have
lived there for thousands of years on the resources of land and sea, as hunters, fishermen
and reindeer herders (refer to appendices Fig.5).

The Arctic is one of the world's least populated areas. The natives are thought to be
descendants of a people who migrated northward from central Asia after the ice age and
then spread west into Europe and east into North America. The indigenous peoples of the
Arctic can trace similar origins in Central Asia. The total Inuit population is about 125,
000 and occupies a large geographical area, stretching from east Greenland across the
north of Canada to the coasts of Alaska and Chukotka. The arctic region is home to dozens
of indigenous people (refer to appendices Fig.6) with a remarkable history. Natives that
live in the Arctic include the Inuit, Dené, and Métis nations of Canada; the Inuit of
Kalaalit Nunaat; the Eskimo (Aleut, Yupik), Dené, and Tlingit of Alaska; the Sami people
of Scandinavia; and the Chukchi, Evenk, Yakut, Lamut, and Koryak of Siberia. The art and
culture of these peoples is remarkable and is characterized by resourcefulness,
adaptability, and innovation.
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