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Dazzling Arctic delta
Lena River snakes through land.Think Siberia.

Cold…gray…barren…right? Not so, as illustrated here by NASA’s Landsat7 satellite. This image captures a side of Siberia known to few people but countless creatures: The wildly branching Lena River Delta, Russia’s cradle of life.

At 2,800 miles long, the Lena River is one of the world’s longest. It flows north from a small mountain lake in southern Russia before splitting into several small rivers that spill into the Laptev Sea. Along the way, the Lena and its tributaries traverse forests, meadows, and hills, creating rich wetlands that provide homes for nesting and migratory birds. It is also a special haven for fish.

The delta region, shown here, endures a harsh, seven month-long winter and a brief but fertile summer. Only the hardiest of humans could withstand the severe conditions, so the area remains unsettled. This may be for the best: The Lena River Delta is the largest protected wilderness area in Russia.

Courtesy NASA .

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