Chukotka's climate is severe, with annual average temperatures ranging from -4.1°C to -14.0°C, and winter temperatures reaching -45°C in coastal areas and -60°C inland. Located on the edge of the Eurasian landmass and on the Pacific Ocean, weather conditions are highly changeable. Chukotka's eastern coast on the Bering Sea is the windiest region in Russia, with average winds above 15 ms-1 for 5.5 months a year. Annual storms bring sustained winds over 40 m s-1 in coastal areas, and the highest recorded winds have reached 80 m s-1 (Kotov, 1995).
Low mountain ranges cover most of Chukotka's territory, dominated by the Aniusk-Chukotka uplands, which separate the Pacific and Arctic Ocean basins. The entire okrug is within the permafrost zone, and the Anadyr River basin is the largest lowland region. Chukotka has proven deposits of gold, silver, platinum, tin, tungsten, mercury, uranium, and other non-ferrous metals. There are potentially large deposits of oil and gas in the okrug, and the maritime shelf of the Bering and East Siberian seas continues to be the subject of large-scale hydrocarbon exploration. Domestic deposits of high-grade coal and natural gas are exploited for domestic energy generation.
Chukotka's vegetation zones range from transitional northern taiga in the southeast interior to high tundra along the north and northeastern coasts. Over 900 plant species, including over 400 species of moss and lichen, are native to the okrug.
Chukotka is a major summer nesting territory for migratory birds with wintering grounds in both the western and eastern hemispheres. The Bering Sea and relatively untouched inland water systems support a very rich variety of fish and shellfish, including varieties of salmon. Larger native species include polar and brown bears, wolves, wolverines, polar fox, and elk, while species of walrus, seal, and whale migrate through coastal waters. Large herds of domesticated reindeer have traditionally migrated within the territory.
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