The Arctic circle maps the northern-most area of the Earth, and marks the extremities of the polar day and the polar night. Learn more about the Arctic circle, and the dangers of its exploration.
The Arctic circle maps the northern-most area of the Earth at a latitude parallel to the equator. The region north of the circle is known as the Arctic, and immediately below is the Northern Temperate Zone.
The precise location of the Arctic circle varies with the Earth’s axial tilt. This can fluctuate by up to two degrees over a 40,000 year period, due to tidal forces. Currently, the Arctic circle is drifting Northwards at an approximate speed of 15 metres per year. Polar day and polar night The Arctic circle precisely describes the southern extremities of the polar day and the polar night. This means that at least once per year, the sun is above the horizon for a continuous 24 hours, and below the horizon for another 24 hours. Exploration of the Arctic circle has been ongoing for over 2000 years. The first documented explorer was an ancient Greek by the name of Pytheas, who was attempting to locate a bountiful source of tin. Many early expeditions resulted in the loss of life, as explorers were unaware of the dangers. Modern technology Modern technology has revolutionised Arctic exploration. It has eliminated the requirement for hunting, helped to maintain stable temperatures, and enabled explorers to constantly monitor mankind's exact location.
The North pole Before embarking on any Arctic expedition, comprehensive research is essential. Very few explorers have been verified as reaching the North pole, and even fewer have done so without very expensive and specialised equipment. Only one expedition of two men has ever reached and returned from the North pole using only muscle power. Research Exact routes and resting locations need to be established before embarking on any expedition. Comprehensive alternative routes also need to be calculated, since the Arctic environment can change rapidly, and the lack of exploration leaves many land movements undocumented. Exposure to such low temperatures for a sustained period time requires extensive preparation. Explorers train their bodies for months to accommodate - requiring the highest levels of fitness and endurance.