Arctic Ocean fast facts

  • The Arctic Ocean is the smallest of five major ocean basins and holds only 1% of global ocean volume.
  • The Arctic is home to 4 million residents from 8 different nations (Canada, Russia, United States, Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland).
  • 10% of global river discharge enters into the Arctic Ocean, mostly during the spring when land ice melts. Six major rivers drain into the basin – the Yukon and Mackenzie rivers from North America, and the Kolyma, Lena, Yenisey, and Ob’ rivers from Asia.
  • The Arctic basin contains a mixture of seawater from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Atlantic water enters through the Fram Strait between Greenland and Norway, and Pacific water enters through the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia.
  • Water from the Arctic can flow back into the Atlantic Ocean but not the Pacific. Arctic water flows back into the Atlantic through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (all those tiny islands bordering Canada), and through the western Fram Strait which acts as a two-way street.


  • Technically, there are two “North Poles” found in the Arctic Ocean. The geographical North Pole is stationary, located at 90 °N on top of the planet near the Earth’s axis of rotation. The magnetic North Pole is found hundreds of miles away where the Earth’s geomagnetic field is vertical – the location of magnetic North migrates about 25 miles annually due to natural oscillations in Earth’s magnetic field.
  • Narwhal whales are real! This is not a test of your gullibility or a joke someone is trying to pull by explaining there are whales in the Arctic Ocean with giant horns like a unicorn. Narwhal whales are found in the eastern Arctic and can have tusks over 8ft long, though the purpose of their tusks is unclear.HI_232822_Paul_Nicklen_National_Geographic_Stock_WWFCanada

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