| Compared to temperate or tropical
regions, the Arctic has few animal species that call it home.
In all of Greenland, there are only about 84 species of birds
that regularly visit (there are hundreds of bird species in
the U.S., by contrast). In the high Arctic, where Zackenberg
station is located, there are only 47 bird species. There are
only 13 species of mammals, six of which live on land (lemming,
ermine, Arctic hare, wolf, Arctic fox and musk ox) and seven
of which are marine mammals that live on ice and in the sea
(polar bear, narwhal, ringed seal, bearded seal, bow whale,
hooded seal and walrus).
The high Arctic, defined by its low temperature, is cold
but not snowy. Most of the moisture in winds blowing toward
the high arctic falls out as rain or snow before it arrives.
The land is what scientists call a cold desert. Some researchers
worry that global warming, which would warm the high Arctic,
will bring more snow and rain. The species that live there
today, adapted to dry conditions, may not survive.