The Arctic covers an enormous region of around 30 million square kilometers. The indigenous population of the Arctic consists of over 30 peoples who speak dozens of languages. In terms of climate, the Arctic is regarded as the region where the average temperature for July remains below 10°C. This isotherm approximately traces the ‘tree line'-beyond which conditions are generally too severe for trees to thrive. The geographic and climatic boundaries for the Arctic differ somewhat. For example, although Iceland lies south of the Arctic Circle, it falls largely below the 10°C isotherm. The geographic and climatic boundaries for the Arctic differ somewhat. For example, although Iceland lies south of the Arctic Circle, it falls largely below the 10°C isotherm. Wildlife and environment of the Arctic are unique. The region is home to more than 20, 000 species of plants, animals, mushrooms, and microorganisms, many of which are endemic.
Active natural resource development and global warming have negative impact on the Arctic environment. Many researchers link the ice pack melting in the region to this environmental degradation. Other scientists consider this process to be part of a natural cycle and expect the situation to drastically change with time.
The decline in sea ice volume in some cases results in polar bear drownings when the bears, exhausted after hunting, cannot swim from one ice formation to another. Also, the reflecting power of snow decreases due to industrial emissions.
The Arctic is the Earth's northern polar area and includes the Arctic Ocean and its seas: the Greenland Sea, the Barents Sea, the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Chukchi Sea, the Beaufort Sea, as well as Baffin Bay, the Foxe Basin, numerous straits and bays of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the northern parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans; the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Greenland, Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, Novosibirsk Islands and Wrangel Island, as well as the northern coasts of the continents of Eurasia and North America.