Arctic Environments/Inland Waters
Although precipitation levels are low enough to qualify much of the Arctic as a desert, water is abundant. There are more than one million lakes and countless rivers and streams in the Arctic. As well, many low-lying areas are wetlands covered with ponds, bogs, or marshes. This surprising abundance of surface water in a desert setting has two explanations. Firstly, the permafrost layer acts like a poor liner trapping meltwater or rain on the surface. Secondly, water on the surface is slow to evaporate because of the low air temperatures.
Inland waters of the Arctic are classified using standard terms such as ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams, but they are unusual. Arctic ponds can be more than a kilometer long and less than a meter deep. Lake basins in some areas of the Arctic were created by wind action and are all oriented in the same direction. Many long rivers flow for just a few weeks each year.