Arctic

Dr. Jan Backman, Marine Geologist

Drilling near the North Pole, Dr. Jan Backman reveals a brief moment in time when the Arctic was subtropical. More about world climate change can be found in our Climate Change featured story .
A team of scientists explore the Arctic ocean.

Under Arctic Ice

Hidden beneath Arctic ice is a world few have ever seen. Take the icy plunge with a team of ice-loving scientists.

Ice Divers Prepare to Plunge

It takes special equipment and many warm layers of clothing to dive safely beneath Arctic sea ice . Ice divers look for holes in a melt pond in order to enter the frigid waters.

Receding Ice Cover

See an animation showing over time, the receding of summer sea ice in the Arctic .

ROV Video of Stunning Creatures

Using an ROV (Remotely-Operated Vehicle) equipped with a high-definition video camera, scientists can observe the life that flourishes beneath the Arctic ice . On this expedition, they discovered creatures, like this Narcomedusa jelly ,...

Taking an Ice Sample

Using a drill, a team removes a chunk from the thick Arctic ice. Small samples are taken from where the ice meets liquid seawater. The ice is then melted for analysis.

Arctic Scientists at Work

Arctic scientists study a range of marine animals – from large species like polar bears to the microscopic, like phytoplankton. The amount of phytoplankton at different depths can tell us about the amount of...

Arctic Exploration

New technology is making it possible for scientists to go where they’ve never gone before, the depths of the icy Arctic Ocean . By collecting organisms and mapping the seafloor, researchers can discover the...

National Ice Center Monitors the Arctic and Antarctic

The National Ice Center’s work is focused on ensuring safe and efficient navigation, but it also supports scientific research and provides crucial information used by scientists to better monitor and understand climate change ...
A polar bear and her cub on the ice

Polar Bears: One Species at a Time

The Encyclopedia of Life brings us another installment of the podcast, One Species at a Time . In this podcast, host Ari Daniel Shapiro relates two close calls with polar bears. Listen as Heather...

Cold Water Diving with WHOI

"Cold-Water Diving: Going to Extremes for Research" is a video produced by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) that shows the focus needed to do scientific work in cold water. The gear is bulkier and...
Arctic cod have a special protein that warms their blood.

Arctic Lesson Plans from NOAA

Explore the Arctic in the "Under Arctic Ice" photo essay, co-developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. This...
A graph of arctic ice coverage from 2011, showing data through September 7, 2011.

Arctic Sea Ice: A New Low?

This graph of the Arctic sea ice coverage shows how close the year 2011 is to reaching a record-low. The graph contains data through September 7, 2011. The National Snow and Ice Data Center...
two men each hold a ceramic vessel at the archaeological ex

Archaeologists Study Early Whaling Community in Quebec, Canada

For over a decade, Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center archaeologist, William Fitzhugh, has been investigating an early European whaling site at Hare Harbor in Québec, Canada . The site has revealed important contact and trading...
Polar bears are threatened by a lack of sea ice.

Climate Change at the Poles

Polar bears are threatened by the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. Credit: K. Elliott, NOAA, Hidden Ocean 2005 At the ends of the Earth, life thrives despite extreme conditions. In the Arctic...
Polar bears are threatened by a lack of sea ice.

The Sant Ocean Hall: Life at the Poles Exhibit

Most of you know that the Earth’s poles are cold. But did you know that there are hundreds of organisms especially adapted to living in these extremes? Did you know that the communities at...
This recently discovered hairy crab species (Kiwa hirsuta) has no eyes.

The Census of Marine Life

Did you know that over 17,000 species thrive in the deep sea where no light penetrates the ocean waves? Or that an old restaurant menu can teach us about the history of fish populations?...

Ice-Loving Seals and the Loss of Sea Ice

In 2011, storms and lack of ice-cover due to a warmer winter climate resulted in hundreds of seal pups being washed up on the shore of Prince Edward Island. Like many, this young seal...