The European-Siberian continental shelf is dotted with a series of island chains. These include, from west to east, the Svalbard Islands, Zemlya Frantsa Yosifa, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya, the New Siberia Islands and Wrangel Island. On the North American side, no islands are found far from shore; the islands of Canada's Arctic Archipelago, such as Banks Island, Queen Elizabeth Island and Ellesmere Island give shape to the Arctic Ocean off Canada's northern coast.
3.1.2 The Midnight Sun and Temperatures in the Arctic Ocean
Apart from a tiny sliver of ocean near the Bering Strait, the entire Arctic Ocean is located within the Arctic Circle, north of 66°33'N. Because of its location at the North Pole, there are days on which the sun never sets, and others on which the sun never appears above the horizon. As one moves closer to the Pole, these "arctic days" and "arctic nights" increase in number. The vicinity of the Laptev Sea coast (72.5°N), for example, is witness to 88 arctic days and 76 arctic nights. Even further north, the north coasts of the Svalbard and Zemlya Frantsa Iosifa islands(80.3°N) are witness to 138 arctic days and 126 arctic nights. The reason why the numbers of arctic days and arctic nights are uneven is that the sun's rays can be seen when it is still 0.5°below the horizon, due to the refraction of light.
The heights of the arctic-day and arctic-night seasons are the summer and winter solstices respectively; as the seasons shift to spring and summer, the number of hours of sunlight changes in a symmetrical fashion away from the extremes of the solstices. Although the sun is much lower than in the equatorial zone, the Arctic Circle receives sunlight 24 hours a day around the time of the summer solstice, and total solar radiation per day at this time of year is therefore higher than in the equator zone where the sun shines only half the day. This bounty of sunlight, however, does not cause temperatures to soar during the polar summer, as its unique cloud and fog formations block off the light and polar snow and ice reflect most of the radiation back into space.
The annual maximum and minimum air temperatures at the Arctic Ocean surface occur roughly one month after the summer and winter solstices, in July and January respectively. Average air-temperature distributions in July cover a broad range on the above-zero side and even up to 8℃ near the coast, except for the center of Greenland and of the Arctic Ocean. In the center of the Arctic Ocean, where multi-year ice remains frozen throughout the year and some melting occurs at the surface during the summer, such process of the massive multi-year ice stabilizes the temperature of the air around 0℃.
In January, on the other hand, the coldest regions are the Siberian and Greenland coasts, gripped by temperatures in the range of -44℃.