The Arctic is a region located in the further north part of the Earth. The region includes the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Russia, and the US. Due to its location, the Arctic can reach temperatures as low as -40°C (-40°F). It is also known for being the home of polar bears and where “the sun never sets in summer“.
How big is the Arctic?
The Arctic covers approximately 5.5m square miles and is home to around 4 million people, of which 10% are indigenous peoples from over 40 different ethnic groups.
Regardless of underlying causes, the Arctic is undergoing a period of significant change that is likely to continue well into the next century, if not longer, and affect all sectors of the circumpolar North. People in the Arctic are worried about contaminants, land use, climate, security and access in the form of rights to land and sea.
Climate change significantly impacts the traditional harvesting activities of indigenous peoples. Rapid weather changes and occurrence of thin ice and severe weather conditions (e.g. strong winds and storms) makes hunting more dangerous. Furthermore, disappearing sea ice affects many species that are subject to harvest, for instance polar bears, seals, whales and some fish stocks depend on ice cover. Additionally, the ice plays an important role in sea temperature regulation and primary productivity. As a result, the livelihoods connected with hunting, fishing and herding are under threat. Indigenous peoples have an especially strong bond with nature and the changes in harvesting activities may have implications on the economy, society, culture and health.