Icebergs in the Arctic Polar Region

 

Free pictures of icebergs in the area of the Arctic, specifically Spitsbergen.
The main difference between the Earth’s two poles is that the Antarctic, or South Pole, is a continent and consists of land covered with glaciers and snow and ice, whereas the only land in the Arctic is some islands, and the rest of the area is floating ice. Below is information about the two polar regions, with photos of the Arctic that you are welcome to use.

The Arctic is the region around the Earth’s North Pole and includes the Arctic Ocean, parts of Canada, Greenland, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the USA (Alaska). The Arctic’s boundary is generally accepted as being north of the circle of latitude at 66° 33’39” N. The Arctic climate is harsh, with average winter temperatures at about -40°C dropping to almost -70°C in extreme cases. Precipitation, which is actually quite low, is usually in the form of snow. Coastal areas are more moderate, but have heavier snowfalls than the inland areas. Vegetation is sparse, consisting of grasses, herbs, lichens and mosses, all growing close to the ground. There are no trees in the Arctic, but shrubs can grow in warmer areas. Animal inhabitants include caribou, foxes, hares, lemmings, musk ox, wolves and polar bears. Marine mammals include seals, walruses and various species of whales. The Inuit, members of the indigenous people of northern Canada, parts of Greenland and Alaska, are descendants of the Thule, an Eskimo culture which was widespread in the region from around 500 to 1400 AD. The Arctic is rich in natural resources, oil, gas and minerals, a fact which has led to international disputes. During a scientific expedition in August 2007, two Russian bathyscaphes descended beneath the North Pole and placed a Russian flag of rust-proof titanium alloy on the seabed. This has created considerable global concern in terms of control of the Arctic’s natural resources.

Most of the photos shown here were taken around Spitsbergen, a Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean. The largest settlement on the island is Longyearbyen, a town with a population of around 2000 and one of the world’s most northerly settlements. Its location well within the Arctic Circle means that it has polar night from the end of October to mid-February and polar day from mid-April to mid-August. Despite its location, or rather because of it, Spitsbergen attracts numerous tourists, particularly during spring and summer and several tour operators offer a wide range of guided tours between February and November. Svalbard airport, on the outskirts of Longyearbyen, offers flights to and from Tromso and Oslo in Norway.

As explained above, the main thing that distinguishes the Antarctic from the Arctic, is that the former is a land-based continent, while the Arctic is a region of frozen sea with some islands. The prefix ‘ant-‘, from Latin ‘anti-‘ means ‘opposite’ so Antarctic or Antarctica just means the opposite pole (i.e. opposite to the North Pole). The name Antarctica was first used on a published map in 1887. The first Europeans to set foot on the continent were probably Lazarev and Bellingshausen in 1820. Admiral Lazarev and cartographer Fabian von Bellingshausen were leaders of the first Russian expedition that ‘discovered’ the Antarctic continent.

The Antarctic today is still largely uninhabited: this continent of 14 million square kilometres (by comparison Europe east and west only adds up to 10 million square kilometres) has a research station population of just over 1,000 scientific researchers in winter, rising to 4,000 during the southern hemisphere’s summer. And that’s it for this harsh environment, where the winter temperature regularly gets down to minus 60 degrees Celsius, and in summer rarely rises above minus 20 degrees. Like the Arctic, Antarctica enjoys 24 hour daylight for a couple of weeks/months in its summer; but of course the corollary is a similar period with no daylight in winter. The altitude of the South Pole is 2835 metres (9,301 feet), and it has long provided a challenge to explorers. The famous “race to the pole” between Roald Amundsen (Norway) and Captain Robert Falcon Scott (Great Britain) was won by Amundsen in December 1911, with Scott’s five-man team all dying on the return journey, having reached the South Pole in January 2012, only to find the Norwegian flag already flying there.

These days, a lot of people visit the Antarctic region on cruises, and they may see a number of most common animals that live there: penguins (four species, Emperor, King, Chinstrap and Adele); two species of seals, Leopard and Elephant seals; and Killer Whales or Orcas. In addition there are numerous seabirds, including the fascinating albatross on its annual circumnavigation of the globe. One animal you won’t see in Antarctica is the polar bear, whose range is confined to the Arctic region.

Need to lose weight? Based on the experience of polar explorers,

The Antarctic Diet


shows how exercising in winter temperatures can make a significant contribution to your weight loss programme.

Broken ice floes with rugged mountains behind. Arctic tourists in the bow of their cruise ship.  Arctic tourists exploring in small boats.  Photographer gets closer to an arctic island. 
A far north Norwegian outpost about to receive supplies. Floating iceberg seen from above. Ice breaking up in the Arctic summer.  A large iceberg photographed from the cruise ship’s deck. 
This big iceberg started life as a piece of glacier. The scoured surface of iceberg  Beautiful seascape with ice floes and mountains in the distance. Arctic summer and ice floes begin to break up. 
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