Arctic Ocean, the coldest ocean in the world

Arctic Ocean – the coldest ocean in the world

Scientists have long known which ocean is the coldest. It was originally clear that of all the oceans on Earth can claim to be the coldest only the Southern and Arctic Oceans. The first has a water temperature of 1.8 to 12 degrees Celsius. The same Northern Sea has a temperature of no more than 8 degrees Celsius, and often the surface waters show values below zero.

This is simultaneously the smallest ocean in the world, which is adjacent to the territories of such countries as:

  • Russia;
  • Norway;
  • Canada;
  • Iceland;
  • Denmark (Greenland).

Despite its small size, the Arctic Ocean includes many seas and islands.

How the coldest ocean in the world formed

The formation of the coldest ocean in the world occurred during the Cretaceous period. This was when the division of North America and Europe took place, at the same time the convergence of Eurasia continued.

What is the flora and fauna of the coldest ocean in the world

The territory of the region is characterized by harsh weather conditions, there is a cold climate all year round, so the animal and plant life is poor. The main representatives of the flora are Laminaria, Fucus, Anfeltia. Phytoplankton, counting about 200 species, is the most diverse. Its main habitat is the lower surface of the ice. Zooplankton of the coldest ocean in the world is rather poor in species diversity.

The fauna of the Arctic Ocean has about 150-200 different species of fish, about 30 species of birds, mammals, polar bears are singled out. An amazing feature of the coldest ocean on Earth is the gigantism of some representatives of the fauna. For example, it is home to huge mussels and jellyfish reaching 2 meters (across), and the length of their tentacles can reach 20 meters. In the same waters are the largest sea spiders, solitary corals. Another notable feature of the inhabitants was longevity: some mussels living in the Barents Sea can live for 20 years, halibut – almost 40 years, and cod – 20 years. It’s hard to say what contribution the cold makes, but longevity is directly linked to it.

How the world’s coldest ocean was explored

People first visited the Arctic Ocean in the 4th century B.C. Scientists have suggested that the Greek traveler discovered Iceland, which he called Thule. From the end of the 10th century the Vikings began to establish settlements here, who discovered Greenland and further progressed to Spitsbergen and then to the Canadian Arctic. A huge contribution to the study of the world’s coldest ocean was made by Russia, which began to study Siberia and the Far East, compiling its outlines.

What discoveries in the Arctic Ocean were made by Russian navigators

A number of explorations were made by Russian navigators:

  1. Ivan Rebrov and Ilya Perfiliev – the passage by sea from the mouth of the Lena River to the Yana.
  2. Mikhail Stadukhin – exploration of the Indigirka and Kolyma rivers.
  3. Semyon Ivanovich Dezhnev – research of the coast of North Asia and discovery of the Bering Strait, connecting Asia and America.
  4. The latter fact made it possible to organize the Great Northern Expedition, which found the shortest route from the White Sea to the Bering Sea.

What was the representation of the Arctic Ocean in mythology

There are interesting ideas about the coldest ocean in the world among the various peoples of Eurasia. It was often associated with the underworld, the realm of the dead. This is especially characteristic of the peoples of Northern Eurasia. Among them stand out Finno-Ugric and Tungus-Manchur.

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Indo-Iranian mythology was related to the Aryan mythology, which considered the Arctic Ocean as the World Ocean. The hardest to imagine the coldest ocean in the world was for the adherents of the ancient book tradition. This is why it was constantly mythologized, for example, its shores were considered the edge of our world, which was inhabited by unprecedented monsters. Old Russian tradition also associated this region of the planet with monsters, but gradually these notions began to disappear, as Slavic tribes began to actively establish relations with the locals. With the advent of modern times, Europeans began to speculate about the existence of a special continent, which they called Arctica. There were many interesting legends, the most popular of which was the legend of the existence of Sannikov Land, allegedly located near the Novosibirsk islands. This hypothesis became very popular by the 19th century. Some still believe that Sannikov Land exists.

Even Arab travelers had an idea of the coldest ocean in the world. Thus, one traveler, who visited the Volga Bulgaria back in the 12th century, tried to describe a certain country, which was “on the sea of darkness.” A number of details described by this traveler are absolutely fantastic. He believed that the merchants who came with them brought hellish cold.

Ecological problems of the ecosystem and economic activity

The nature of the Arctic Ocean has a lot of vulnerabilities. How do countries contribute to its preservation? There is an AEPS strategy adopted by several countries to preserve the ecology of the world’s coldest ocean. Its main goal is to preserve the ice, which melts every year. According to the agencies dealing with the Arctic, by 2050 the volume of ice will be reduced by half compared to 1950. AEPS also aims to preserve animal populations and protect northern seas from industrial pollution.

The topic of melting ice for the coldest ocean is particularly acute. It’s hard to say exactly what role humanity plays in this, but many animals are already endangered because the ice is a hunting ground for them. Melting ice contributes to a decrease in reflectivity, which increases the absorption of solar energy many times over and increases warming. Finally, melting causes sea levels to rise.

Significant problems are caused by the deterioration of coastal waters. The northern seas are regularly used as sedimentation basins, where untreated water from the Northern Fleet is discharged. Industrial effluents also adversely affect the environment by discharging waste from the oil industry. The Arctic Ocean is threatened by radioactive contamination. The Kara Sea is used for disposal of containers with nuclear waste, sunken nuclear reactors have been resting at the bottom for a long time and remain dangerous for flora and fauna. Near the coast there is a whole warehouse of 12 million barrels containing chemical raw materials.

The Soviet Union conducted nuclear tests on Novaya Zemlya for more than 30 years, conducting more than 130 explosions, some of them incredibly powerful. The explosion of the Tsar Bomba became known to the world as a demonstration of the most destructive weapon in terms of power. It is hard to imagine the damage done to the ecosystem. One of the most dangerous incidents in the history of the world’s coldest ocean was when a B-52 bomber crashed near Greenland, causing the nuclear bombs to shatter, radioactively contaminating a huge area.

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Use by the military

On the territory of the world’s coldest ocean, exercises are regularly conducted by various countries. Among them are Canada, Russia, and the United States. Also, British troops (jointly with the U.S.) take part in exercises on a regular basis. What the legal status of the region is still unclear, so there is a potential threat of military conflict due to the incredible natural riches over which disputes constantly arise.

Russian forces test ballistic missiles launched from submarines. In this regard, the Stockholm Peace Research Institute has noted serious modernization of military vessels, so the region remains a potential “bone of contention,” but so far the countries have maintained a peaceful and open policy.

What Economic Importance of the Ocean

Several countries use the Arctic Ocean for transportation. For example, Russia uses the Northern Sea Route, and the United States and Canada use the Northwest Passage. The coldest ocean in the world has long served the fishing industry as the main source of fish production in the northern territories. Now it retains its status as one of the most valuable regions on the planet. Even despite its poverty, it is of great interest to a number of countries. For example, Greenland, which belongs to Denmark, is constantly harvesting harp seals. However, commercial fishing is prohibited in some coastal areas.

The most important natural treasure remains the oil and gas superbasin, which contains huge reserves of oil and gas. Billions of barrels and trillions of cubic meters attract major transcontinental exploration companies.

The question of pioneers

There is still debate as to who was the first to cross the Earth’s coldest ocean and become its conqueror. The British were only able to guide the ships Discovery and Alert to the pack ice, the Norwegian ship Fram was trapped in the sea ice, in the end the crew had to go back. The first to claim his status as a conqueror was the American Robert Peary, who allegedly reached the North Pole by 1909. His status is refuted by many explorers.

A very eccentric attempt at conquest was made by aviators from the United States and Italy, who went to the North Pole using the dirigible “Norway”. They are credited with crossing the Arctic Ocean and reaching Alaska from Spitsbergen Island. Soviet pilots also managed to cross the Arctic Ocean, and did so twice, but the third attempt was fatal – the plane, piloted by Levanevsky, disappeared without a trace.

The British, who organized a transarctic expedition without the use of motor transport, were universally recognized. The official date of the North Pole conquest was April 6, 1969. This high-profile event was immediately challenged by the Americans, who claimed that Richard Evelyn had flown to the cherished point back in 1926. Many years later, however, the falsification was confirmed, relating directly to the report itself, submitted to the National Geographic Society.

What is the scientific significance of the Arctic Ocean

Many countries are involved in researching the coldest ocean in the world. A joint project between the United States, Canada and the Soviet Union, which built research bases, is still bearing fruit. It helped to discover the Lomonosov Ridge, discovered the continuation of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Research in biology became very important, which led to the construction of a large Arctic station.

The Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union issued a separate atlas on the Arctic Ocean, and the Germans, with the help of a scientific icebreaker, carried out work of a hydrochemical, biological, meteorological, hydrological nature. Modern research also brings important discoveries. The Arktika-2007 project, undertaken by the Russian Federation, will provide valuable data during the Mir deep-sea submersibles. The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, which organizes polar expeditions every year, plays a major role.

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What are the legal problems

The coldest ocean on the planet still has no clearly regulated legal status. Its territories are conventionally distributed between 6 states. And Iceland has no territorial claims to the Arctic sector. A difficult point is the lack of agreement on the bottom of the ocean.

Denmark has the Faroe Islands and Greenland, it and Canada regularly have to enter into disputes over Hansa Island, and the country is also interested in the continental shelf, as its representatives have repeatedly stated at the UN. Canada has enormous possessions, conventionally taken as polar possessions. Their total area exceeds 1.4 million square kilometers. The created “Northern strategy” of Canada, which was announced more than 10 years ago, assumes strengthening of the economic development of the region with the basic rate on researches. The Canadian government is also interested in the continental shelf (an application for ownership was submitted in 2013).

Norway has a territory of about 175 thousand square kilometers. This is only a small part of the total polar possessions of the country. In total, more than 746 thousand square kilometers are assigned to it.

The United States and Canada are engaged in active disputes over the Northwest Passage, which, according to the U.S. government, is an international zone, which is denied by Canada, which claims the right to own the passage. Russia, under the Soviet Union, had more than 5.8 million square kilometers of polar possessions. The government is also interested in the continental shelf. There will always be great interest in the coldest ocean in the world. Its natural riches have been the subject of disputes for many decades, but so far there are no threats of serious conflicts. On the other hand, there are developing environmental problems, primarily related to melting ice.

The coldest ocean in the world

Photo of the Arctic Ocean

Interesting Facts

Many travelers wish to see the vast ocean expanses, to hear the sound of splashing waves, to get acquainted with the amazing underwater world. With such desires, few people think of the Arctic Ocean. It only attracts the attention of those who are interested in the incredible scenery.

It is the coldest ocean in the world, as it is almost completely covered in ice year-round. Harsh weather conditions hinder its detailed study, but still the most hardened researchers continue to work on it.

Many interesting and enlightening insights have been obtained over the years of study, which you can learn about on TourJournal.

The formation and exploration of the coldest ocean

Photo of bears

The Arctic Ocean appeared back in the Cretaceous period. Since that time, its beginnings began. It was then that Europe and North America split, but Asia continued to connect.

A side note. People first appeared in this area in the 4th century BC.

Researchers have a theory that Iceland was discovered by a Greek traveler. Since the end of the 10th century, the Vikings settled in the area, who discovered Greenland.

Russia made a great contribution to the research. She began to study in detail the terrain of the Far East and Siberia.

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The role of the ocean in mythology

Photo of an iceberg

The various nations of Eurasia throughout life had their own ideas about the coldest ocean.

  • Many perceived it as an underworld or the world of the dead. This was the view held, in particular, by the inhabitants of Northern Eurasia.
  • Aryan and Indo-Iranian mythologies have similarities. The peoples considered the ocean the World Ocean.
  • It was perceived most severely by supporters of the ancient book traditions. That is why it was often attributed different meanings and unearthly powers. Its coasts were perceived as part of our planet, where monsters lived.
  • In ancient Russian traditions, there is also an association with unclean forces. When the Slavs began to communicate closely with the locals, the perception changed little by little for the better.
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From the new time, Europeans began to think about the existence of an unusual land, which they called Antarctica. By the 19th century, one hypothesis became popular, according to which the Sannikov Land was located near the Novosibirsk Islands.

Peculiarities of the Arctic Ocean

Photo of pack ice

This ocean in comparison with other water systems of the planet has the lowest water temperatures. In terms of its area, it is the smallest. Its waters wash the coast of North America and Eurasia. It includes 3 basins:

  • Canadian;
  • Northern European;
  • The Arctic Basin.

It is connected to the Pacific Ocean by the Bering Strait, which runs between Siberia and Alaska. The Greenland Sea joins it to the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately 40% of the total area is dedicated to bays and seas. In its waters are spread many islands, the number of which it lags behind only the Pacific Ocean.

Several varieties of ice form over the body of water:

  • polar – located in the center of the polar circle and never melts;
  • landfast ice – ice masses that form on the shores of continents near the ocean;
  • Pack – formed in winter season behind polar ice.

Climatic conditions

Photo of ice

Not surprisingly, the ocean is considered the coldest, since it has the harshest climatic conditions. First of all, this is due to the minimum amount of sunlight. Heat practically does not penetrate into the polar zone. The polar night here can last up to half a year. During this period, the surface of the ocean cools down as much as possible, and a large area of it turns into ice. In summer it gets warmer and the ice thaws in some places.

The weather is also involved in shaping the weather:

  • The Pacific Ocean;
  • the Atlantic Ocean;
  • the rivers of Alaska;
  • the rivers of Siberia.

More than half of the heat coming from them is transferred to the atmospheric air.

Significant fluctuations in average temperature readings have been noted recently.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the indicators reached their maximum value, and global warming was recorded, which made scientists pay attention to what was happening.

The central part of the polar region has minimal precipitation, while the sub-polar region has plenty of it. Since precipitation does not penetrate under the ice, it is not able to affect the water level in the body of water.

Flora and fauna

Photo of seal seal

The harsh climate is unsuitable for the life of organisms, so the flora and fauna here is very poor. Flora is represented mainly by algae, which are able to sprout even on the ice. This is due to the fact that the water contains a lot of oxygen. If we talk about the representatives of animal life, they include:

  • Coelenterates;
  • shellfish;
  • paddlefish;
  • protozoa.

The ocean is home to over 100 varieties of fish, most of which are considered commercial, several dozen seabirds. Of the mammals:

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Economy .

Photo of catching fish

There are shipping lanes through the ocean, which create a link between the archipelagos and the continents. Navigating them is very difficult, as there is always a risk of colliding with blocks of ice. In addition, the movement is complicated by harsh climatic conditions.

Large gas and oil deposits are found in the ocean waters. The extraction of mineral resources is in full swing here. There are many ores and coal near Eurasia. There is also a big fish catch:


Ship photo

The local nature of this area is very fragile. Many nations contribute a lot to ocean conservation.

A special AEPS strategy has been developed to improve the ecology of the body of water. The main goal is to preserve the ice, which thaws each year. According to the estimates, by 2050 the ice should be reduced by 2 times in volume compared to the middle of the 20th century.

Efforts are also aimed at preserving wildlife and protecting the water area from industrial waste.

All problems can be divided into several groups.

  1. The most global problem for the Arctic Ocean is the melting of ice. It is difficult to assess the human role in what is happening, but some species are threatened with extinction, because the ice is a hunting ground for them. Because of melting ice, the reflectivity decreases, causing the amount of solar energy to increase and become much warmer. It also leads to more water in the ocean system.
  2. The coastal waters are not happy either, which causes equally serious problems. The northern seas are constantly acting as sediment ponds, where the Northern Fleet discharges the dirty liquid. Oil industry wastes, which are also discharged into the ocean waters, have an adverse effect.
  3. A serious threat comes from radioactive contamination. The waters of the Kara Sea serve as the environment in which the crates in which nuclear waste was stored are disposed of. Nuclear reactors have been lying at the bottom for decades, posing a deadly danger to flora and fauna.

Legal problems

Photo of Hans Island

Various nations periodically hold exercises within the Arctic Ocean. These include:

  • Russia;
  • America;
  • Canada;
  • Great Britain.

It is still unclear which region is assigned the status. This poses the danger of a military conflict because of the enormous amount of useful natural resources over which disputes regularly occur. The Russian military tests its missiles here by launching them from submarine vessels.

The territory is divided among six states.

  • Iceland has no questions about territoriality. The main difficulty lies in the agreement on the bottom of the ocean, or rather in its absence.
  • Denmark owns the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

There are constant disputes between Canada and Denmark over the island of Hansa. Also of interest is the continental shelf.

  • Canada owns a large polar area of about 1.5 million square kilometers.
  • Norway has holdings of 180,000 square kilometers. This is a small fraction of the state’s total polar possessions. In total, the country owns about 750,000 square kilometers.
  • There are ongoing problems between Canada and America regarding the Northwest Passage. The U.S. government assures that the territory is considered an international zone, which Canada strongly disagrees with.

Despite all the weather and natural challenges, interest in the body of water has been and will continue to be great.

The coldest seas near Antarctica

Photo of Lincoln Sea

In addition to the Arctic Ocean, there are several seas that are considered the coldest and are covered in ice for most of the year.

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