MEN of white skin have trespassed upon the Arctic more during the last twenty years than they did during the previous two hundred. For this there are two principal reasons. In the first place, knowledge of the geographical and climatic conditions prevailing in the Far North has become much more accurate than ever before. And secondly, the complete dependence on surface transportation, whether on land or sea, which characterized Arctic exploration in the past has come to be replaced by an increasing utilization of the airplane. In fact, it is safe to say that aviation is the greatest single factor now contributing to the development of the Far North.
The general description usually given for the climate of the Arctic and sub-Arctic is "continental on the continents and oceanic over the polar sea." Specifically, this means that midsummer temperatures sometimes reach 90° Fahrenheit in the shade at points on the mainland a considerable distance beyond the Arctic Circle (temperatures as high as 100° have been recorded), and that in winter the mercury drops to 70° below zero, or even lower. Even so, the greatest midwinter cold of the Arctic mainland is not quite so intense as that of the north temperate zone. The Cold Pole in North America is at least 100 miles below the Arctic Circle, while in Siberia it is another 200 miles still farther south.
Sir John Richardson, the first explorer of Arctic North America whom we could classify as a scientist, said that he had "never felt its [the sun's] rays so oppressive within the tropics as I have experienced them to be on some occasions" in the Arctic. This heat enables vegetation to grow with tropical speed. There is no chill of night because there is no night. Plants grow 24 hours a day, so that one Arctic day is for them equal to two tropical days. For instance, wheat has been successfully cultivated, without resorting to artificial means, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Canada, and even farther north in
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