The Arctic Lowlands:
The Arctic Bay

Tourism: Ice hotel

     The Arctic Lowlands are located in the territory of Nunavut. There are so few people in this region that it does not have a definite population. The main reason for this is because the territory is so cold. However with this tourism idea, there is no doubt that people will want to spend time in this region and explore. This tourist spot is mainly focused in the Arctic Bay and its physical features will show exactly why it is the best place for an ice hotel!

Physical Features


     The climate of the Arctic Bay is classified as tundra climate, meaning that the region has long, cold winters and short, cool summers. Summer occurs from the months of June to August and winter occurs during the rest of the year. This is mainly because of the latitude of the region as it is located north, very far from the equator. The average temperature in the winter ranges between -40°C to 0°C, and in the summer, it ranges between -10°C to 10°C.

     The Arctic Bay is near water. This affects the climate in both the summer and winter differently. In the summer, the water, which is mainly ice covered, moderates the temperature, and the water is usually colder than the temperature on land. Also, the cold water leads to the formation of clouds which absorbs solar heat, further moderating the temperature and causing the summers to be cool. In the winter, it is the opposite as the water is usually warmer than the temperature on land. Harsh winds in the winter causes rapid movement of tiny snow crystals which makes the already cold climate, even colder.


     Imagine the land of the Arctic Bay as a sandwich. There is sedimentary rock at the bottom, a permafrost layer in the middle, and for most of the year, a layer of snow and glacier on top. This area has flatland, restricting the water from flowing, and being a factor in the formation of permafrost in cold climate. The layer of permafrost is thick and does not allow infiltration of water. The restricted movement of water into soil has resulted in the region's barren land. In the summer, the ice melts, but the permafrost still remains below the surface. As the permafrost quickly fluctuates between seasons, it creates patterned ground in shapes of polygons on the landscape. Snow-beds and snow-patches are the two types of snow covers of the Arctic Bay and they each support vegetation in the area differently.

This is a picture of permafrost. It is clear to see that it is thick and flat.

Vegetation and Soil

     Due to the permafrost in the Arctic Bay, this region has very infertile soil, making it impossible for agriculture. In the soil profile, the bedrock in the parent material horizon is mainly metamorphic rock that consists of granite and a lower Paleozoic sedimentary rock. The soil profile of this area also has a high concentration of organic material, but is low in available nutrients. Due to this, there is very little vegetation in the area, and the few plants that actually do grow, do not last very long.

     In the two different types of snow covers, snow-patches are better for vegetation than snow-beds. For snow-beds, they melt very slowly in the summer but just enough for plants to be able to grow. A good thing about melting snow-beds are that they produce a lot of water for the plants. However, as the snow melts very slowly, it may last during the span of the entire growing season, meaning that some plants will not be able to bloom or be harvested. This causes the vegetation in this area to have to adapt to a short growing season. For snow-patches, the snow melts much faster and creates moist for the growing season, making it the better snow cover for vegetation.

     The vegetation that occurs usually grows close to the ground and in small groups such as shrubs and lichens. As there is not any rich soil available, the flowers in the area have adapted to the situation and are able to grow on very rocky ground. Flowers such as the Arctic poppy and purple saxifrage are able to do so. Also, this area is treeless as it is located north of the treeline, meaning that trees would not be able to withstand the harsh, cold weathers of this region to survive.

This is purple saxifrage. It is clear that this flower has adapted to the Arctic Bay as it is one of the few plants that are able to grow on rock.


     The Arctic Bay is formed by Paleozoic sedimentary rock. This type of rock contains natural gas, oil, an abundant amount of limestone, and lignite, which is a form of coal. Extracting these natural resources can be dangerous if not done carefully, resulting in problems such as oil spills or blocked pipes.

Map of the Arctic Lowlands

This map shows where the Arctic Lowlands are located in Nunavut and where the tourist attraction is going to be located, in the Arctic Bay.

Human Activities

     At the Arctic Bay, tourists will be welcome to stay at the ice hotel. The entire structure will be made of ice and snow and will be topped with a transparent dome that allows visitors to watch the northern lights at night while also being sheltered at the same time. The hotel will be open during the winter months and tourists will be able to stay over night for reasonable prices. The hotel will be closed during the summer. The climate of the region will greatly support the ice hotel as it is very cold, meaning that the hotel will not melt or weaken. The permafrost of the Arctic Bay also makes a fantastic foundation for the ice hotel. Furthermore, due to the fact that the Arctic Bay has tundra climate, the hotel will be open for the majority of the year as winter is longer than the other seasons. Overall, comparing this to other locations that have ice hotels, such as Quebec, the Arctic Bay is the better place to have an ice hotel because of the climate. Also, the northern lights will be visible through the glass dome that makes the top of the ice hotel. This is a unique attraction that can only be seen in areas near the poles, giving a certain 'wow' factor to the ice hotel. The fact that the hotel is only open in the winter means that due to the Arctic Bay's latitude, it will be getting indirect sunlight. Between November and January, this area experiences 24 hours of darkness, allowing tourists to easily see the northern lights pop with colour.

    During the rest of the winter months that do not experience 24 hours of darkness, tourists can explore and seek a great variety of wildlife. The Arctic Bay consists of polar bears, snowy owls and ravens in the winter, just to name a few. As it gets warmer, this region is also a great place to witness many species of birds and marine mammals such as whales, seals and narwhals.

     During one's stay at the ice hotel, they will also be exposed to the beautiful Inuit culture. They will be introduced to their music through throat singers and will be able to remember the Inuit culture through clothing and carvings. Traditional Inuit meals such as muktuk, which is raw whale skin and blubber, also know as Inuit chewing gum by the locals, will also be available. An ice hotel that is supported by the climate, northern lights, an interesting variety of wildlife, and exposure to Inuit culture will definitely attract many tourists, keeping one entertained during their entire trip.

A Viewing of the Arctic Bay

This video has many wide shot camera angles of the Arctic Bay, showing the beauty of the land and how large the land is as well. It is easy to imagine an ice hotel in the large, open space. The video also well covers two other video attractions, the wildlife and the exposure to the Inuit Culture. Those two attractions are available with the ice hotel and this video shows them as very fun and interesting adventures.

Climate Change

     Climate change in the Arctic Bay is occurring very rapidly. The temperature is rising due to global warming. The world's dependency on fossil fuels is causing greenhouse gases to be released into the air. As these gases increase, they build up in the atmosphere, warming up the world's climate. The warming of the climate in the Arctic Bay will melt glaciers, icebergs and the permafrost. This will result in an overall warmer climate, meaning that the winters may become shorter. For the ice hotel, if the climate warms and the winters become shorter, the opening hours for the hotel will shorten. Warmer climate creates additional melting to permafrost, weakening the foundation and overall infrastructure of not just the ice hotel, but all buildings in the Arctic Bay.

     The melting of glaciers and icebergs cause the loss of animal habitats. Soon, animals will not be able to survive, terribly affecting the unique variety of wildlife in the area. There will also be more pollution in the air which will contaminate certain vegetation that animals eat in order to survive. This will harm the animals and their health. Once the animals get sick, there becomes a gap in the food chain and there will be less animals for tourists to see. All in all, climate change will create danger in the Arctic Bay, however, it will also create urgency. People will want to visit the ice hotel and see the wildlife before climate change occurs and takes it away. It will be like a limited time offer as once the earth's climate warms, this action cannot be reversed.

Natural Disasters

     Tundra fires occur in the Arctic Bay and it is becoming more and more common as the climate changes. They can last months at a time and send they carbon into the air, negatively affecting the environment. The tundra fire burns vegetation, soil and thaws the permafrost. Dark surfaces where the fire burned the land will also absorb heat, hurting the environment even more. This natural disaster creates a danger and health hazard to tourists. The ice hotel will thaw, causing the attraction to have to close down.

This is a tundra fire. It is clear to see that it is burning the vegetation and that a lot of smoke is present.

After looking at certain factors of the Arctic Bay, it is surprising to remind ourselves of how small the population is. With a place that comes with so much potential for adventure and fun, the Arctic Bay is a great place for tourism, especially a nice hotel that comes with an experience with northern lights, wildlife, and the Inuit culture experience.

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