The Arctic presents a stunning landscape with breathtaking views, showcasing nature’s beauty and ruggedness. The white ice cover over the freezing waters enchants and attracts nature enthusiasts and lovers of unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In this article, let us explore the ten fascinating Arctic Ocean facts.
1. Arctic Ocean took shape approximately 65 million years ago
Per scientists, the Arctic Ocean formed 65 million years ago during the Cenozoic Era due to the spreading and gradual expansion of the seafloor and the opening of the Arctic Ocean Basin.
The region was once a chunk of land called the Arctic Continent that broke into pieces and formed the Arctic Ocean.
The water body is unique because it is surrounded by land with only some narrow straits connecting it with neighbouring oceans. Its formation took millions of years, and it evolved due to the growth and retreat of ice sheets, sea level changes in the bygone ages, and variations in oceanic circulations.
2. Arctic comes from the Greek word ‘arktikos’, which means bear
The Arctic Ocean is named so after the Arctic region, which is the land surrounding the North Pole. The Arctic is derived from the Greek word ‘arktikos’, which means ‘near the bear’ or ‘northern’.
It is important to note that bear here does not mean polar bears. Instead, it refers to the Ursa Major constellation, also called the Great Bear. This constellation has been mentioned in the folklore of many cultures.
Speaking of Inuit mythology, Great Bear is also called Nanook. It is viewed as a powerful and wise spirit that is said to guide the souls of humans into their afterlife. It is also mentioned in the Chinese, Native American and Greek mythological stories.
The Great Bear shines in the northern skies and helps sailors find their way, serving as a vital navigational aid. It is also known as Arktos in Greek and helps find the North Star.
3. Fridtjof Nansen was the first to undertake an expedition to the Arctic Ocean
Fridtjof Nansen undertook an important expedition to the Arctic Ocean from 1893 to 1896. However, he did not cross the Arctic as it only became possible via sturdy ships in the 20th century.
However, Nansen made important contributions through his expedition. His ship Fram sailed north towards the North Pole; however, the ice was quite thick, and his ship could not move forward. Hence, his team and Nansen moved out to explore the area on skis and sledges. They made scientific observations of the Arctic. Through his initiative, many explorers were inspired to cross the harsh ocean.
Roald Amundsen was the first to cross the Arctic Ocean from 1903 to 1906. The Norwegian explorer and his crew traversed the rough waters on their vessel Gjoa from Norway to Alaska through the Arctic while going through the perilous Northwest Passage.
The expedition aided in exploring the Arctic and established Amundsen as one of the greatest polar explorers still remembered today.
4. Arctic is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s oceans
The Arctic covers about 14,060,000 km2 or 5,430,000 sq miles. It is also one of the coldest oceans on our planet. It is also the smallest, covering less than three per cent of the earth’s surface. Most of it is covered with ice, whose thickness varies with the season.
It has an average depth of around 1038 metres or 3406 ft, which makes it less deep than the Southern Ocean. The Arctic Ocean lies around the North Pole and is also close to the northern regions of Eurasia, North America and Greenland. Many islands lie close to the Arctic Ocean.
The deepest point of the Arctic Ocean lies in the Eurasian Basin, which is 5450 m deep. The ocean has a 45,390 km long coastline. Some nations that border the Arctic Ocean include Russia, Iceland, Norway, Canada and the U.S.