The Arctic region, as defined by various Arctic Council working groups and projects.
The Arctic may be considered a single region, but it can be defined and
delineated in many different ways. This theme introduces the different
ways the Arctic can be and has been defined by different scholars and
organizations, and the many ways that the 'Arctic boundary' can be
drawn on the map.
include environmental markers such as the treeline and 10' July
Isotherm, as well as definitions of the region created by processes of
the Arctic Council.
In order to establish the geographic limits of their work, the working groups of the Arctic Council began to create boundary lines on the circumpolar map that were relevant for their particular mandate. For example, the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP)
, which predates the Arctic Council, created its 'AMAP area' as the territory where it would carry out environmental monitoring under the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy.
From the AMAP site:
In order to establish a geographical context for its assessments AMAP has defined a regional extent based on a compromise among various definitions. The 'AMAP area' essentially includes the terrestrial and marine areas north of the Arctic Circle (66°32’N), and north of 62°N in Asia and 60°N in North America, modified to include the marine areas north of the Aleutian chain, Hudson Bay, and parts of the North Atlantic Ocean including the Labrador Sea.
Other Arctic Council working groups such as Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF
) and Emergency, Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR
), and the Arctic Human Development Report (AHDR
) developed their own boundaries or adapted the AMAP boundary. While it may seem odd to have several different boundaries within even the Arctic Council, the different scopes of each working group makes it difficult to have a 'one-size-fits-all' solution. For example, the CAFF boundary largely follows the treeline in order to include the ecosystems that are the focus of its activities. Similarly, the Arctic Human Development Report needed to be based largely on northern political units, as that is how the majority of socio-economic data and information on northern socieities is organized.
From the AHDR:
For this reason, the AHDR takes as its point of departure the region that the Arctic Monitoring and
Assessment Programme covers in its 1997 and 2002 reports (4-5). For reasons having to do mainly with the location of jurisdictional or administrative boundaries and the availability of data, however, the area covered by this report differs from the AMAP Arctic in some respects.
You can explore the differences and commonalities between these boundaries in the map layers below.
Source data provided by the Arctic Council
View this map in Google Earth