Having left arctic for almost a half year, the recent strikes of arctic air over pretty much of whole Canada remind me of my past five years life in arctic. In coming days, i would like to make a few entries to memorize the most unforgettable times i had in arctic.
Speaking of arctic, two most known fact might be cold weather and lifeless bare land. People in down south are not unfamiliar with cold arctic air, but not so many people in their lifetime have chances to see arctic tundra. Tundra usually refers to the treeless plain where subsoil is permafrost, or permanently frozen year round. As such, in people’s perception, tundra is just bare land without trees and flower but snow and ice year round, Is this true? Absolutely not, sub layer of tundra is frozen year round, but the surface is consists of active soil which thaw every year, and provides vital support for tundra ecosystem. as a result you could see four seasons on arctic tundra.
Active layer of tundra usually ranges from 20 to 80 centimeter in depth. It thaws in late spring and freezes up in early fall yearly. Subsurface mostly consists of soil, tilts and clays, ice rich soils or pure ice which called ice lens. Snow on surface will not melt until late summer if ice lens lies beneath.
Most of tundra starts to thaw in early spring, usually middle of May above 70 degree latitude, the higher the latitude, and the later thaw starts. When surface thaws, it is saturated by melting snow water, and in dark color in big contrast with surrounding snow and ice patches.As it looks so spectacular that lifeless tundra into ink painting.
Along with increasingly warm weather, in middle of July, tundra finally welcome its thrive summer. As subsurface ice melting and seeping out, tundra surface will dotted by numerous lakes and ponds. In summer, lavish water and 24 hour sunshine turns the deadly tundra into flower carpet and paradise of wildlife. Peak summer time usually last for three to four weeks, in such a short time, all plants compete their whole life cycle.
Like spring, fall on tundra is usually short and transitional. It could come as early as middle August and last until early October depend on weather. Over a short but glorious booming, colors retreat and tundra put on its brownish coat, which will change into pure white by snow at any time. Similarly, fall is the season closely associated with beautiful colors and harvest, there is no exception in far north on tundra regardless lack of trees. landscape could be spectacular and various wild berries are abundant.
Rocky tundra in fall
Winter on tundra is synonymous with death as it turn back to deadly ice world. Merciless arctic air and 24 hrs darkness convert the colorful tundra into a lifeless planet. Except a few tough wildlife species, such as musk ox, arctic fox, and ravens, tundra is prohibitive to other life on the earth.
Picturesque Arctic shore mountains in winter