Alaska in the Extreme

Reflections on the Beauty of Winter Along the Arctic Circle

Winter at and near Selawik National Wildlife Refuge is long, cold and, at its height, dark. It is extreme, but it has a distinct beauty all its own. A few impressions...

Winter Light Is Beautiful: When the land is blanketed in snow, and the days are shortest, we get twilight conditions, in which the world is a pastel-hued painting.

Winter Means Coping and Freedom: Dressing for negative temperatures and being able to access parts of the refuge otherwise never seen.

Animals are Well-Adapted

Animals that stay the winter have thick fur or down feathers, hollow hairs that trap warmth, or antifreeze in their blood

Winter Is Followed by Breakup

The phenomenon of abundant snow melting, river ice breaking up and a rush of water and ice chunks flowing downstream is known as spring breakup. Breakup scours the land clean, sculpting gravel bars, sandbars and riverbanks so that each year visitors may feel like they’re the first people to walk on a particular spot. Breakup and other runoff events bring nutrients from leaf litter, etc. into the rivers to help support the aquatic ecosystem’s productivity.

In Alaska, we are shared stewards of world renowned natural resources and our nation’s last true wild places. Our hope is that each generation has the opportunity to live with, live from, discover and enjoy the wildness of this awe-inspiring land and the people who love and depend on it.

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