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    Arctic Ocean Geography 1997

      Location body of water mostly north of the Arctic Circle

      Geographic coordinates 90 00 N, 0 00 E

      Map references Arctic Region

      total: 14.056 million sq km
      note: includes Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East SiberianSea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, NorthwestPassage, and other tributary water bodies

      Area - comparative slightly less than 1.5 times the size of the US; smallest of the world'sfour oceans (after Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean)

      Coastline 45,389 km

      Climate polar climate characterized by persistent cold and relatively narrowannual temperature ranges; winters characterized by continuous darkness, coldand stable weather conditions, and clear skies; summers characterized by continuousdaylight, damp and foggy weather, and weak cyclones with rain or snow

      Terrain central surface covered by a perennial drifting polar icepack that averagesabout 3 meters in thickness, although pressure ridges may be three times thatsize; clockwise drift pattern in the Beaufort Gyral Stream, but nearly straightline movement from the New Siberian Islands (Russia) to Denmark Strait (betweenGreenland and Iceland); the icepack is surrounded by open seas during thesummer, but more than doubles in size during the winter and extends to theencircling land masses; the ocean floor is about 50% continental shelf (highestpercentage of any ocean) with the remainder a central basin interrupted bythree submarine ridges (Alpha Cordillera, Nansen Cordillera, and LomonsovRidge)

      Elevation extremes
      lowest point: Fram Basin -4,665 m
      highest point: sea level 0 m

      Natural resources sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules, oiland gas fields, fish, marine mammals (seals and whales)

      Natural hazards ice islands occasionally break away from northern Ellesmere Island;icebergs calved from glaciers in western Greenland and extreme northeastern Canada; permafrost in islands; virtually icelocked from October to June;ships subject to superstructure icing from October to May

      Environment - current issues endangered marine species include walruses and whales; fragile ecosystemslow to change and slow to recover from disruptions or damage

      Environment - international agreements
      party to : none of the selected agreements
      signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

      Geography - note major chokepoint is the southern Chukchi Sea (northern access to thePacific Ocean via the Bering Strait); strategic location between North Americaand Russia; shortest marine link between the extremes of eastern and westernRussia, floating research stations operated by the US and Russia; maximumsnow cover in March or April about 20 to 50 centimeters over the frozen ocean;snow cover lasts about 10 months

      NOTE: The information regarding Arctic Ocean on this page is re-published from the 1997 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Arctic Ocean Geography 1997 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Arctic Ocean Geography 1997 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 06-Mar-02
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