Arctic

Mosses, grasses, sedges, and shrubs carpet the treeless tundra of the continent’s far-northern fringe. Winters here are long and bitter: temperatures stay below freezing more than half the year. For thousands of years native peoples have thrived in the Arctic, sharing the land with caribou, polar bear, and wolf. Climate change and energy development have heightened concerns for these fragile landscapes.

Location
Alaska, from the Alaska Peninsula, around the western coast, including the Seward Peninsula; then all lands north of the Arctic Circle, including the Brooks Range and the north slope

Climate
Arctic climate: Long summer days -- land of the midnight sun -- but very short growing season. The remainder of the year features frigid temperatures that hover around  -12ºC (10ºF), and about 114mm (4.5in), which dry, but drought is uncommon. 

Features
Mountains and rolling plains of permafrost with intermittent thermokarst features (collapsed permafrost forming wet depressions). Also, tussock tundra, dry tundra, dwarf shrub tundra, sparse rock outcrop and alluvial plains. River floodplains feature dwarf shrubs. In the distance, snow-capped mountains. In the near, you'll find shallow lakes and coastal shoreline with annual ice scour.

Then and Now
For millennia, Arctic native people have lived on subsistence hunting and fishing. Energy development centered on Alaska's north slope has brought infrastructure, pollution, and increased environmental impacts, such as  pumping water from shallow iced-over lakes for ice-roads. The shifting ice front along the Arctic Ocean effects sea and near-shore mammal habitat. Early signals of climate change have stepped up concerns for everyone depends on these fragile landscapes.

Arctic Ecoregions

Copyright © 2017 NatureServe. All Rights Reserved.