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The Natural Environment

Climate

Winter in the Arctic is long and cold, and summer is short and cool. The Arctic Circle marks the border of a zone in which the sun never rises during at least one day in winter and never sets during at least one day in summer. The number of days when the sun is or is not visible during the entire day increases toward the north. Latitude, which determines the length of daylight, influences climate, but nearby areas contrast sharply. For instance, on the Greenland ice cap average midwinter temperatures are -33C (-27F), whereas adjacent coastal settlements, whose climates are moderated by the relatively warm ocean, typically have a mean temperature of -7C (19F) in the same period. The North Pole is not the coldest spot in the Arctic, because its climate is moderated by the ocean. Oymyakon, in northeastern Siberia, holds the record low temperature of -68C (-90F). The coldest recorded temperature for North America is -65C (-85F), at Snag, in Yukon Territory. The characteristically low precipitation averages less than 250 mm (10 in) per year, the moisture being received in almost all locations.

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