Winter Will Be Here Soon -- Study hard as finals approach...


 
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Life In The Tundra

 

Ditions enclose roughly the same territory, which is
somewhat larger than the region bounded by the Arctic
Circle, and will be used as the basis for this article.The
largest Arctic tundra areas are in Canada, Russia,
Greenland (Kalatdlit-Nunat), Scandinavia, Iceland and
Alaska.Climate and Land Formation Tundra climate is
characterized by harsh winters, low average temperatures,
little snow or rainfall, and a short summer season (Goudie
1993). The arctic tundra, in particular, is influenced by
permafrost, a layer of permanently frozen subsoil in the
ground. The surface soil, which tends to be rocky, thaws in
summer to varying depths. The combination of frozen ground
and flat terrain on the tundra impedes the drainage of
water. Held at the surface or saturating the upper layer of
soil, the water forms ponds and bogs that provide moisture
for plants, thereby counteracting the low precipitation.In
relatively well-drained locations, the periodic freezing
and thawing of the soi gy are also extremely important.
Some animals adapt well to Arctic conditions; for instance,
a number of species of mammals and birds carry additional
insulation, such as fat, in cold months (Urquhart 1995).The
Arctic has more than 400 species of flowering plants. The
vast stretches of tundra that cover the plains and coastal
regions consist of low creeping shrubs, grasses, thick
growths of lichens and mosses, and herbs and
sedges.Abundant animal life inhabits the Arctic, both on
land and in the sea. Arctic mammals include polar bear,
arctic fox, ermine, marten, arctic wolf, wolverine, walrus,
seal, caribou, reindeer (domesticated caribou), musk-ox,
lemming, arctic hare, and many species of whale.Birds are
plentiful throughout the Arctic Regions. The guillemot and
little auk nest by the thousands along cliffs. Ravens, snow
buntings, and sandpipers have been seen in the remotest
northern land regions, as have the snowy owl and the
gyrfalcon. Various species of gull, including the jaeger,
also range far t laska and northern Canada still follow a
subsistence lifestyle. They live as their ancestors have,
measuring their lives with the caribou.The Porcupine
caribou herd sustains some 7,000 aboriginal people in
northern Canada and Alaska. They rely on caribou meat for
food and on the herd for learning the ways of their
culture. For the Gwich'in, which means "caribou people,"
this animal is the spiritual center of life. Young men
learn from their fathers and uncles how to hunt wisely and
use all parts of the animal. Young women learn from their
mothers and aunts how to preserve the meat and take care of
the hides. Elders share their knowledge with their people,
teaching them how to make valuable medicines and clothing
from the caribou.Today the essentials of life, the values
and social order of the Gwich'in depends upon nature's
natural cycle, and the return of the caribou. For these
people, the caribou must return each year forever.If the
Porcupine caribou herd is disrupted, even for a few years,
ding air currents bearing pollution from the industrial
countries and the fact that most of the pollutants
biomagnify in fat are threatening the very survival of
humans and animals living in the Arctic. Fat is packed with
energy making it possible for marine animals and humans to
survive in the Arctic (meat and sugar diets are not
adequate in the frigid climate) but the fat diet magnifies
pollution. The international fund for animal welfare
recently found arctic seals to be polluted with 29
chemicals including pesticides, PCBs, arsenic, mercury,
cadmium as well as hydrocarbons from petrol soot and tar.
The seals milk contained radioactive caesium-137 and
strontium 90 from reactor wastes. Polar bears, walruses and
humans top the food chain and bear pollution loads that
have begun to threaten their survival. When PCBs reach a
critical level in fat, males loose the ability to produce
sperm, the most efficient food gatherers are sterilized
first leaving profound impacts on the evolution of the
animals. T rmer Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and North
America. DDT long banned in Canada and the United States is
used extensively in Central and South America and is a
threatening pollutant of the Arctic. A recent study traced
DDT and PCBs from the Caribbean (including industrial
Merida) up the Mississippi Valley to Southwestern Ontario
and presumably beyond to the Arctic. Canadian and United
States industries fleeing to Mexico for cheap labour and
lax environmental controls are clearly threatening the very
existence of Canadians and polar animals. On Goodfriday
1987 the Exxon Valdez ran aground in the Prince William
Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the
surrounding ocean. Prevailing winds and currents produced a
slick on 1500km of pristine coastline. The damage caused by
an oil tanker unlicensed to be so close to the coast caused
the worst ecological damage in the area to date:980 dead
Sea Otters146 dead Bald Eagles 33,126 other seabirds killed
through suffocation, poisoning or exposur fe Range the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and enlarged the Refuge to
19 million acres, most of the former Range a part of the
Wilderness Preservation System.There is opposition towards
this:- worldwide consumption of oil is growing. There is
pressure on the US Governmetn from lobbyist groups from the
oil industry to find new sites of extraction for oil and
other raw materials to reduce its reliance on the OPEC
countries and also to continue the present day growth in
its economy. The American Petroleum Institute claims the
coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might
produce as much as 250 thousand barrels of crude oil per
day, that is about 105 million barrels per year.In
November, 1991, legislation that would have opened the
Arctic Refuge to drilling reached the Senate floor, but was
defeated on a procedural vote. A February, 1992, effort to
add it to a Senate energy bill was dropped due to limited
support. However, the drilling proposal could be brought up
again at any time.. erica. DDT long banned in Canada and
the United States is used extensively in Central and South
America and is a threatening pollutant of the Arctic. A
recent study traced DDT and PCBs from the Caribbean
(including industrial Merida) up the Mississippi Valley to
Southwestern Ontario and presumably beyond to the Arctic.
Canadian and United States industries fleeing to Mexico for
cheap labour and lax environmental controls are clearly
threatening the very existence of Canadians and polar
animals. 

Bibliography:
 
Cohen S (1994). Mackenzie Basin Impact Study (MBIS).
Alaska.
 
Crawford R (1990). Effects of Human Activity on High
Latitude Biodiversity (HILBIO) - on behalf of UK NERC and
ESRC. HMSO, London.
 
Cummins J E (1992) "Poisoning The Northern Environment"
University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, USA 

Goudie A (1994) The Human Impact on the Natural
Environment, 4th Edition, Blackwell, Oxford. 

Goudie A (1993) The Nature of the Environment, 3rd Edition,
Blackwell, Oxford. Kalland A Nord
 



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