The Arctic is a natural refuge for stealthy culture heroes like Santa Claus and Superman. Not only does it offer seclusion from global fame, but its harsh climate and polar mystique can burnish anyone's superhuman credentials.
Of course, the Arctic is now in dire straits due to human-induced climate change, threatening more than just Santa's workshop and Superman's Fortress of Solitude. We recently listed seven reasons why the decline of Arctic sea ice matters to everyone, including its ability to reflect solar heat and regulate global weather.
But while the Arctic is changing before our eyes, it still boasts much of its iconic beauty and magic for now, especially in winter. And thanks to the long night that shrouds the Arctic winter in darkness — plus charged particles from the sun that sometimes crash into our planet's magnetosphere — this earthly beauty is occasionally backlit by ethereal displays of colorful lights dancing across the sky.
As Christmas casts a global spotlight on the Arctic, here are a few amazing aurora videos from the region, including a look at the northern lights from the perspective of Inuit elder Alice Ayalik in the final video, "Northern Light Legends, Kugluktuk."