Sea ice is an important feature of the Arctic. Qikiqtaruk is typically completely enclosed in ice in the winter; during the summer, surviving blocks of ice come and go depending on the direction of the prevailing winds.
Sea ice in the Arctic follows a seasonal cycle of growth and thaw, and is at its minimum extent at the end of the summer. According to NASA, this minimum extent has been decreasing by 12.8% per decade, and we are now dangerously close to witnessing a completely ice-free Arctic Sea in the summer.
A group of glaucous gulls rests on an unusual formation of ice. Sea ice plays an important role in the life of many Arctic animals, from seals to polar bears, and its dramatic reduction in the last few decades forces animals to travel further to give birth to their young or to hunt.
Qikiqtaruk is a treeless island above the Arctic circle. However, its shores are rich in driftwood that has been carried over hundreds of kilometers through the Mackenzie river delta into the Beaufort Sea.
Fog can roll in very quickly on Qikiqtaruk, leaving you blind to everything further than a few meters away. Beware of bears!