With most of its waters lying in the Arctic north polar region, the Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s five oceans. Some scientists call the Arctic Ocean the North Mediterranean Sea or the Arctic Sea. Covering approximately 5,427,000 square miles, the body of water is approximately the size of Russia. Continents that border the Arctic include Europe, Asia, and North America. The U.S. and Russia maintain floating research stations in the region.
Sea ice covers much of the Arctic Ocean and is generally thicker during colder seasons and thinner when the weather is warmer. Portions of sea ice can be moved across the ocean by wind and water currents. Icebergs may break off frozen land areas and create dangerous conditions for ships that sail across the Arctic. They may also from glaciers in Greenland and the parts of Canada that lie furthest northwest. Because the waters of the Arctic are covered in ice for most of the year, the cold temperatures of the ice cause subfreezing air temperatures in the area. The cold air then moves toward the equator and collides with warmer air along the way, causing rain and snow.
There is little range between the weather from season to season in the Arctic region. Winters are generally continuously dark with clear skies, calm waters, and cold, stable weather. Summers include continuous sunlight, damp, foggy conditions, and mild cyclones that may include rain or snow.
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