• Lighter-than-air ships  
  • How man copes with the cold  
  • Organisation of the measurement flights  
  • Flying conditions and risks during the expedition  
  • The measurement campaign  
  • Communications - Safety - Emergency assistance  
  • Earth observation satellites  
  • Our airship  
  • The earth's atmosphere  
  • Weather forecasting and modeling  
  • The climate and the north pole  
  • The solar energy balance  
  • The greenhouse effect  
  • The ice pack: frozen saltwater  
  • Icebergs : frozen seawater  
  • The arctic ice: climate archives  
  • Ice ages and landscapes  
  • The Arctic Ocean and the ocean currents  
  • Genesis of the arctic ocean  
  • Arctic plankton  
  • Oceanic biodiversity and the food chain  
  • Whales and other cetaceans  
  • Seals and walruses  
  • Arctic flora  
  • Arctic fauna  
  • Polar bears  
  • Birds of the arctic  
  • Evolution of species and climate  
  • Geography of the Arctic regions  
  • Geographic North Pole and magnetic North Pole  
  • Who owns the arctic?  
  • Exploring the deep north  
  • The Inuit people  
  • The other peoples of the deep North  
  • The Arctic today  
  • Man and arctic biodiversity  
  • Pollution in the arctic  
  • Climate warming: the natural cycles  
  • The increase in the greenhouse effect  
  • The impact of global warming  
 

The ocean and marine life
Genesis of the arctic ocean
 

A jigsaw puzzle of tectonic plates
The Earth’s crust is made up of about 15 thick and rigid plates that are constantly moving around. Very slowly, these “tectonic” plates (whose fault lines are mostly ridges on the sea bed) grind along against each other, move apart or collide together making one slide under or over the next. This geological ballet triggers earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Arctic Ocean: a sea bed opening under the ice
A map of the sea bed shows that the mid-Atlantic Ridge separating the American and Eurasian plates extends right up into the Arctic Ocean. But very little is known about the history of the Earth’s crust in that region because conditions in the Arctic make geological and geophysical studies very hard to carry out.

The story still continues…
Some 500 million years ago, a huge ocean covered the whole of the northern half of the Earth, meaning that Spitsbergen and Greenland were where the Equator is. Between 150 and 200 million years later, both land masses had moved as far north as the Tropic, and by 100 million years ago Spitsbergen was nearly up to the Arctic Circle. The pieces of the Arctic puzzle were slowly being put in place.

The birth of the Arctic Ocean
About 50 million years ago, the Atlantic Basin continued to open up towards the North, pushing Spitsbergen across alongside Greenland. In this way, the Arctic Basin split apart and the Arctic Ocean was born. By 20 million years ago, all the land masses were in practically the same positions as today. But the movement continues, slowly moving America and Northern Europe further apart.