Arctic Environments/Land Features
The major landscape features of the Arctic are nothing strange – they range from lowland plains to mountains higher than 3000 m. However, the sparse plant cover means that the Arctic is a place where geology has a huge impact on the eye – the colour of a scene is often due to bedrock!
The land's surface features reinforce a sense of strangeness. Great piles of rock, oddly positioned boulders, and raised beaches all reflect the past presence of glaciers. The soils, where they exist, are thin and underlain by permafrost. The surface layer has been wrinkled, pleated, and shattered by frost action to produce mosaic patterns that suggest human intervention.
Browse below to learn more about the factors responsible for the special appearance of Arctic lands. The section on topography provides background on larger scale features, while details of the landscape are described in glacial and freeze/thaw features. The final two sections provide an overview of the land itself; shifts in bedrock composition are detailed in geology, while information on soil and permafrost is provided in the last section.