The Russian Arctic desert is confined to a few islands in the country namely: Novaya, New Siberian islands, Franz Josef Land and Severnaya Zemlya. The entire Arctic area of Russia ranges from Norwegian border to the Ostrov Ratmanova, west to east. They have completely barren lands and almost no vegetation. Most of the area is covered with ice.
In the Russian arctic, the annual precipitation is generally about 5 inches. The soils are extremely poor and most of the arctic is covered in ice for most part of the year.
Russian arctic has almost no vegetation. The bare ground usually sports mosses and lichens. Foliose and crustose lichens belonging to the genera Gyrophora, Rhizocarpon and Lecidea grow on the substrate that is stony where fine soil is found, fruitose lichens belonging to the genera Alectoria, Cladonia and Cetraria are found. Moss varied such as Andraea papillosa, Rhacomitrium lanuginosum, Pogonatum capillare and Tetraplodon mnioides are also found but in lesser proportion. Flowering plants are rare and scattered in occurrence. Other plant species found are: Douglasia ochotensis, Saxifraga funstonii, Papaver polare, Artemisia glomerata and Saussurea tilesii,
The main animals found in this region of the Arctic are Reindeer, Arctic foxes, beavers, snow owls, ptarmigan, lemmings and musk oxen. Artic fox adapts to the harsh cold desert of Russian Arctic by developing a coat of thick fur in addition to a bushy tail. They create dens on the hillsides for protection. Kangaroo rats are another species of animal in Russian Arctic. They burrow in the stony sand and have adapted to the extreme cold and lack of water by physiological changes in the body’s metabolism. Jack rabbits are another kind of hardy creatures that inhabit this desert terrain. They burrow and feed on the scarce vegetation of the region. They form the prey for foxes and dogs of this desert.
The entire population of Russian Arctic is not more than 2 million people. The natives of this region belong to various groups namely the Selkup, Chuvan, Koryak, Mansi and Ket. They herd reindeer for their living and live in close-knit groups.
In recent times, there has been large-scale exploitation of the natural resources that has led to adverse climatic conditions. The standard of living is very poor in this part of the country. The people here suffer from many health conditions and have shorter life spans due to social distress and sickness.