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GS2 PYQ 2021 (Mains Answer Writing): Arctic Circle and Arctic Ocean | Geography for UPSC CSE PDF Download

How do the melting of the Arctic ice and glaciers of the Antarctic differently affect the weather patterns and human activities on the Earth? Explain. (UPSC GS1 2021)

Arctic is an ocean covered by thin layers of perennial sea ice and surrounded by land while Antarctica is a continent covered by very thick ice cap. The melting of ice and glaciers in the two affects the weather pattern and human activities differently as seen below:
GS2 PYQ 2021 (Mains Answer Writing): Arctic Circle and Arctic Ocean | Geography for UPSC CSE

The melting of ice and glaciers in Arctic and Antarctic will have irreversible consequences for the humans as well as the global weather patterns. The need of the hour is to adopt sustainable approach to minimise the effects of global warming.

Topics covered - Ocean Currents, Jet Streams, Wind System and Water Circulation on Earth

The document GS2 PYQ 2021 (Mains Answer Writing): Arctic Circle and Arctic Ocean | Geography for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Geography for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on GS2 PYQ 2021 (Mains Answer Writing): Arctic Circle and Arctic Ocean - Geography for UPSC CSE

1. What is the Arctic Circle and why is it important?
Ans. The Arctic Circle is an imaginary line located at approximately 66.5 degrees north latitude that marks the southernmost point at which the sun can remain continuously above or below the horizon for a full 24 hours during the summer and winter solstices, respectively. It is important because it delineates the region where the Arctic climate prevails and plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate and supporting unique ecosystems.
2. How is the Arctic Ocean different from other oceans?
Ans. The Arctic Ocean is distinct from other oceans primarily due to its location and physical characteristics. It is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five oceans, and it is located mostly within the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Ocean is also covered by ice for a significant portion of the year, making it different from other open oceans. Its unique conditions and ecosystem make it highly susceptible to climate change and human activities.
3. What are the major challenges faced by the Arctic Ocean?
Ans. The major challenges faced by the Arctic Ocean include climate change, melting sea ice, ocean acidification, pollution, and overfishing. Climate change is causing the Arctic ice to melt at an alarming rate, leading to rising sea levels and altering marine ecosystems. The melting ice also opens up new opportunities for resource extraction, which can lead to increased pollution and disruption of fragile ecosystems. Additionally, overfishing poses a threat to the already vulnerable Arctic marine species.
4. How does the Arctic Ocean contribute to global climate change?
Ans. The Arctic Ocean plays a significant role in global climate change. The melting of Arctic sea ice due to rising temperatures leads to increased absorption of solar radiation, which further accelerates global warming. The loss of ice also disrupts the ocean's circulation patterns and affects the global thermohaline circulation, which regulates the Earth's climate. Additionally, the release of stored greenhouse gases from melting permafrost in the Arctic Ocean further contributes to climate change.
5. What are the potential economic opportunities in the Arctic Ocean?
Ans. The melting of Arctic sea ice is opening up new economic opportunities in the region. These include increased shipping routes through the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route, which can significantly reduce transportation time and costs between Europe and Asia. The Arctic Ocean also holds vast reserves of untapped oil, gas, and mineral resources, which can attract investments in extraction and exploration. However, these opportunities also raise concerns about environmental impacts, indigenous rights, and geopolitical tensions among Arctic nations.
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