Cold-Loving Critters: Animals of the Central Arctic


The Central Arctic is an extreme environment, with temperatures reaching down to 50 degrees below zero and fierce winds that can howl for days. It is subject to complete darkness during winter, but then 24 hours of sunlight during the middle of summer. The Central Arctic landscape is mostly composed of ice, snow, and ocean water near freezing temperatures year-round--but no land. Even though these conditions may sound unforgiving, the Central Arctic is home to many different types of animals, ranging from huge polar bears that travel thousands of miles on the sea ice to find food, to microscopic algae that live in tiny channels within the sea ice. It is a complex ecological food web composed of algae, crustaceans, fish, and mammals such as polar bears, seals, and foxes.

Scientists are studying these living creatures to understand how they thrive in such a unique environment. Part of the MOSAiC Expedition research is focused on understanding these animals and how they are affected in their habitats by climate change.

What does this creature or plant look like?:

Some of the smallest animals at the base of the food web in the Central Arctic are microorganisms like algae and copepods.