Known for its cold, desert-like conditions, Arctic tundra is located in the Northern Hemisphere, encircling the North Pole. The stark landscape is frozen for most of the year, and water is unavailable. Temperatures during the arctic winter can dip to –60 Fahrenheit (–51 Celsius).
In the summer the ground thaws for just a few weeks, and the region’s plants and animals—which include geese, sea birds, polar bears, caribou, and shrews—fight for survival. Because the tundra is not usually exposed to human activity it is most susceptible to change and damage from human use or pollution. Oil spills damage the plants, land, and animals that live along the coast.