This post is second in the three part Polar Ice series. The first part described the continent of Antarctica. This part describes the Arctic region at the north pole. Part three will describe the impacts that climate change seems to have on each region.
What region is defined as the Arctic? That depends on who you ask. As noted in this map, there are three generally accepted definitions. The most common definition from scientists is the region north of the Arctic Circle above 66.5˚ latitude. North of that latitude, the sun does not set on the summer solstice or rise on the winter solstice. A second common definition is the area where the average temperature for July is less than 10˚C or 50˚F. The third is the area north of the tree line. All three are indicated with arrows on the map.
Starting at the North Pole, follow the vertical line on the map toward the bottom. It is the 0˚ Prime Meridian and passes through Greenwich, England. Go to the left on 90˚W to pass through Canada, St. Louis, Central America, and the Galapagos Islands off the west coast of South America. The line toward the top of the map goes through the central Pacific. Go to the right on 90˚E to pass through Russia, eastern India, and the Indian Ocean.
The north coast of Russia, islands to the north of Canada, northern Scandinavia, and Iceland are designated as an arctic maritime climate. They have very cold and stormy weather in the winter with snowfall totals from 60-120 cm (2-4 ft). Regions closer to the pole and the interior of Greenland have yearlong ice cover. Unlike the Antarctic which has most of its ice grounded on solid land, the Arctic has most of its ice floating on the sea. This map is a generalized view and does not represent any particular date of the year. Click to embiggen.