Arctic Ocean Facts

Here are some facts about the Arctic Ocean.

  • The Arctic Ocean is the world’s smallest ocean, as well as the shallowest. It is also the least salty of all the oceans, because of the large amount of melting and freezing ice it contains.
  • It covers an area of almost 14 million square km, an area about the size of Russia. The ocean is surrounded by the US, Russia, Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia.
  • The average depth is about 1130 metres, and there are several continental shelves which hold gas and oil deposits. The ocean’s deepest point is the Eurasian Basin at 5960 metres.
  • The Arctic Ocean has 3 different types of ice – pack ice, Polar ice and fast ice. The floating ice supports seals, Arctic foxes and Polar bears.
  • Almost all the ocean is covered by ice during April, while at other times it melts to about 9 million square km. The amount of ice is thought to be decreasing by about 3 percent every 10 years.
  • Ships often get trapped in the ice or are crushed by the ice, and huge icebergs can break off and drift south. The iceberg that sank the Titanic originated here.
  • The first sea crossing of the Arctic Ocean was made in 1896 by a Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen. The first surface crossing was made by the British explorer Wally Herbert in 1969.
  • The water temperature ranges from -30C to -70C, depending on the time of year. Despite the cold, more fish live on the edge of the ocean than anywhere else.
  • There is almost no plant life in the Arctic Ocean, although lots of whales, walruses and jellyfish live there. Lion’s mane jellyfish which have tentacles up to 37 metres long, thrive in the Arctic Ocean.

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