iPhone Apps for the Arctic-minded


For Christmas I received a new-to-me iPhone 3G. It’s my first smart phone and I love it. This morning I went way down the bunny hole of apps at the iTunes Store where I downloaded weather, currency converter, and requisite ‘best restaurants around’ apps. But, I wanted more – what apps out there are available and relevant to those of us who live in and/or work in the circumarctic? Below is a brief summary of some that look useful…or at least fun and interesting. Disclaimer: these apps are as new to me as they are to you – I’m not reviewing or recommending, just sharing. If you try these out or have any favorite polar apps to share, let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Arctic Science

Arctic Watch

Arctic Watch allows users to access sea ice maps for the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Coverage maps updated daily by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Center for Environmental Prediction show daily sea ice coverage extent. Real-time satellite data is also accessible and users can compare current readings to data for the last thirty years. The arctic utility is free while the antarctic utility requires a one-time $.99 fee which supports other real-time app development. 

Skeptical Science

This App and its developer have received a lot of press. Below is a review published by the Guardian’s Green Living Blog (February, 17, 2010) as one of the top 10 green iPhone apps. It’s also free.

“Based on information from an Australian blog that puts climate s[k]eptics under the microscope, this app is the ideal tool to counter pub bores when they tell you solar radiation, a spot of snow or the hacked climate science emails are proof that climate change isn't happening. It lays out the most common arguments by s[k]eptics and then offers you both a succinct and in-depth counterargument, the latter often complete with graphs and links to science papers. Well-designed, it offers dozens of responses to statements you'll have heard many times, from ‘the ice age was predicted in the 70s’ and ‘the models are unreliable,’ to ‘Greenland was green.’ The genius touch is a reporting feature that enables you to feed back arguments when confronted with them, helping the team behind the app to build up a picture of the most common arguments.” Download

Google Earth

The desktop application we know and love on the iPhone.

Arctic Wildlife

Project Noah

Project Noah makes you a citizen scientist. The free app allows users to record wildlife and plant sightings with map, note, and photo formats. Observations are networked so you can see the critters other people in your area have catalogued in the Noah Field Guide. Visit the Project Noah website for global exploration. Join a Mission for science like the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Impact which asks people to contribute photos and observation notes. Download

The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America

You can have the entire Sibley Guide complete with bird sounds! The guide isn’t cheap at $29.99, but if you're into birds, it’s worth it according to this review from The Birder’s Library. Download

Fun and Games

Aurora Borealis Jigsaw

This app creates digital jigsaw puzzles from beautiful photographs of the Northern Lights. The app is well worth the $.99, especially when you find yourself stranded in an airport.

Amazing Alaska iSlider Puzzles

I love this app! Photos of Alaska glaciers are made into 29-piece slider puzzles. Truly a fantastic time-waster.

North Pole – iSoundboard

Ever wonder what a narwhal sounds like? For $.99 this simple utility allows the user to see and hear a handful of Arctic animals and birds. It’s a fun app for adults for a few minutes, but it’s really geared toward the kiddos. Critters include:

  • Whale (sounds like a Humpback to me)
  • Wolf
  • Reindeer
  • Narwhal
  • Snowy owl
  • Polar Bear
  • Husky
  • Seal
  • Walrus
  • Arctic hare
  • Musk Ox
  • Puffin
  • Harp Seal
  • Beluga
  • Moose
  • Penguin (shouldn’t this one be on the South Pole iSoundboard?)

Now, if I could just find an ARMAP app…hint, hint. –Marcy Davis