Let’s learn about the Arctic

The far North is a mix of vast tundra and icy waters

a polar bear mother with two cubs

This polar bear mom and her two cubs were traveling across the tundra in the Canadian Arctic.

AndreAnita/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Arctic — that region that makes up the far North of our planet — has now emerged from its long winter night. Snow has started to melt. And the sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean will begin to melt and shrink, too.

The freeze-and-melt pattern of the Arctic has long been the norm, but climate change is now altering things. Much of that ice used to last even through the summer. But sea ice is melting more and more each year, and may one day soon disappear entirely. Erosion is threatening Arctic communities. And scientists worry about what may happen as long-frozen soil, called permafrost, continues to thaw.

But scientists are studying more than just climate change in the Arctic. They’re tracking polar bears and other iconic species. They’re studying what habitat freshwater fish prefer. And they’re taking a look at the surprising activity of what lives in the 24/7 darkness of the Arctic sea in the middle of winter.

Want to know more? We’ve got some stories to get you started:

Welcome to the Arctic’s all-night undersea party: The months-long, dead-of-winter darkness hides a surprisingly lively cast of characters, scientists find (1/3/2019) Readability: 6

Strange lake belches flammable gas in the high Arctic: Lake Esieh is spewing vast amounts of methane — a potent greenhouse gas (4/25/2019) Readability: 6.4

A Day in the Life: Arctic ecologist: These scientists on Alaska’s North Slope do everything from fishing to scrubbing rocks (8/25/2016) Readability: 7.1

Explore more

Scientists Say: Tundra

Scientists Say: Permafrost

Scientists Say: Latitude and Longitude

Scientists Say: Zooplankton

Why Antarctica and the Arctic are polar opposites (explainer)

Word find

From Science News: A year long expedition spotlights night life in the Arctic winter

See where individuals of three Arctic species — polar bears, narwhals and bowhead whales — are currently roaming with the WWF Species Tracker.

Sarah Zielinski is the Editor, Print at Science News Explores. She has degrees in biology and journalism and likes to write about ecology, plants and animals. She has three cats: Oscar, Saffir and Alani.

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