By: Nicole Hopkins, Ryley Mckenzie and Emily Pritchard.

The Northern Arctic is located in eastern part of the Northwest Territories and most of the archipelago north of Nunavut. It covers about 1.5 million km² and it is among the largest arctic ecozones in the world. This ecozone is the coldest and driest landscape in the Arctic. It has very long winters and short summers. Vegetation here is scarce because of the permafrost and very thin layer of soil. Plants are not able to survive such harsh and cold climates. Wildlife includes: arctic fox, polar bears, caribou, ox, etc. Not many people live here because of such cold and dry conditions…the total population of the Northern Arctic is 15 000.
Video of the Northern Arctic:



The Northern Artic covers about 1.5 million km². As a result of its large size, there are many different landforms within the region. The western section includes lowland plains covered by marine vegetation and exposed bedrock. The eastern part is formed of rocky hills and plateaus. The northern islands are covered by ice all year round. Many coastlines are wide and flat plains that extend up to 10 km inland. Permafrost covers the entire ecozone. Under this layer, which freezes in winter and thaws in summer, the depth of permafrost can extend to 10 km. In general, the landscape may be covered by permafrost, frost-shattered limestone and sandstone.The Northern Arctic is located in the Arctic Lowlands and a small southern area is located in the Canadian Shield.

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Rocks and minerals

Some of the rocks and minerals in the northern arctic on the western side are: Mesozoic, sedimentary rock and Precambrian rock (proterozoic and archean which are mainly acid rocks) the western side also consists of Palaeozoic (sand stone, lime stone, and undivided rocks) It is also littered with glacial deposits of shattered limestone and sandstone. The east side consists of bedrock that is mostly Precambrian granite. Some minerals that are in the northern arctic are lignite(oil, natural and gas deposits)also the east part of northern arctic has deposits of zinc, copper, lead, nickel, gold and other important metals. Minerals are found deep into the ground which so far we havent been able to uncover because the ground is permanently frozen which makes it very hard for machines to dig.

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Vegetation and Soil

Vegetation: The Northern Arctic is located in the Tundra region. All of the Northern Arctic lies above the tree line, therefore no full-sized trees can be found there. High winds,permafrost and thin layers of soil make it very difficult for plants to grow and root; that is why vegetation is very scarce in this ecozone. Only about 140 plant species are found here compared with 3000 in southern Canada. Very few plant species can survive these harsh conditions because of the dry and cold climate.
Vegetation is more abundant near streams or rivers because they are able to absorb a lot more water, moisture and nutrients.
Arctic plants have developed many adaptations to this harsh ecozone. To avoid the cold artic winds, most plants are very short.
Some examples of natural vegetation well-adapted to this ecozone are: Artic Poppy, Arctic Willow, Cottongrass, Moss. Along the coastline, you can sometimes find "oases". Oases are mainly near coastal lowlands because they need moisture and minerals they absorb from streams and rivers.

Soil: The Northern Arctic is located in the Tundra soils region. A type of soil found in this area is cryosolic soil. This type of soil stays at a temperature of 0 Cº and is covered by permafrost almost throughout the whole year. The permafrost, its depth and the thin layer of cryosolic soil make plant rooting very difficult, limiting vegetation.

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The climate in the northern arctic is the coldest, driest, and harshest in the Polar Regions, which limits the diversity of plants and animals in an ecosystem. The annual mean temperature can drop as low as -32 degrees Celsius, and a high of -1.5 degrees Celsius. The mean annual precipitation is very low, ranging from 10-20 centimetres. This Rain usually falls as orographic precipitation because of the mountains, and rocky hills located in the eastern part of the northern arctic. The rain could also fall as snow, ice pellets, or hail. In northern arctic it is extremely cold; there are high winds that are very forceful, creating blizzards. It is also a maritime climate, there are arctic air masses and there are mountains and some hills in the area that could affect the climate. The Northern Arctic is located in the Artic climate region.



Tourism in the Northern Arctic ecozone is significant to the Arctic’s economy. It generates $11.8 million for arctic businesses. In the northern arctic ecozone, there are countless lake and rivers, untouched wilderness, and amazing fishing and camping sites. People come from all around to experience the Arctic’s unique features. Some of the popular features include artistic and cultural legacies and the Northern Lights. People are fascinated by the remoteness and beauty of the North, lifestyles, the low temperatures and sports experiences in unusual surroundings. Visitors also come to try to get a glimpse of the interesting wildlife. Animals include musk-ox, caribou, ptarmigan, polar bears, brant and elder duck, walrus, narwhal and beluga whale (in ocean). There has been a 50% increase of tourists in previous years, and the arctic is making efforts to improve their tourism and transport infrastructures to attract more visitors.

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Fun Facts

  • Winters pass in near darkness and extreme temperatures (average -32º C).
  • Summers pass in constant daylight. The average temperature in summer is -10º C.
  • Approximately only 15 000 people live in the Northern Arctic
  • It is among the largest Arctic ecosystems in the world
  • coldest and driest landscape in the Arctic
  • Classified as a polar desert because it is so cold and dry
  • Permafrost is present everywhere in this ecozone and can extend downwards for over a kilometer
  • summer highs of only -1.5°C
  • Caribou have four hoofed “toes” on each foot, which spread out like snowshoes, enabling them to walk on deep snow
  • The arctic fox cope with the winter by growing a dense layer of white fur. The fur covers every inch of the body, including the bottoms of the paws. This layer of fur is so effective that the fox does not have to raise its body heat production until the ambient temperature reaches - 40º C
  • Winter winds are extremely forceful, creating blizzards and high wind chill factors.
  • There is very little annual rainfall.
  • Arctic fox burrows into the ground or snow for protection from the arctic cold.
  • Arctic fox create a store of food over the summer months and freeze it in the permafrost.
  • Winters pass in near darkness with the polar night measured in weeks and months rather than hours.

Ecozones Future

There could be drastic changes in the future for the Northern Arctic ecozone. Since there has been a 50% increase of tourism in the past years, tourism should still be increasing. Although it could decrease, if global warming destroys the arctic. Global warming will cause melting of the ice. The melting ice will cause a decrease in wildlife, especially those that depend on the ice and frozen and cold temperatures. With the warming temperatures and ground, plants will start to grow. Because of the cold temperatures and permafrost, plants are unable to grow in the present day. If the temperatures rise, the ground will thaw, making it possible to dig and discover new rock types and minerals. As of right now, the ground is too frozen to try to explore under ground. With the increase of rocks, minerals, plants etc., people will be able to start new businesses with the new materials. With the increase of businesses, there will be an increase of population. More people will come to the northern arctic for job opportunities, especially with it being more livable (warmer climate). The northern arctic ecozone may change in the future for the better.


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