Tundra – Arctic Series

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.

Ice leas under active layersIce lens under active layer on tundra

small bay at Gravel pitSnow would still stand even in mid summer when 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.

Spring on tundra Tundra in Spring

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.

tundra under sunshine Lakes and ponds dotted tundra in summer

Tudra flowers in the Arctic Flower carpet on tundra in summer

Summer Tundra Flower beds on the arctic ocean shore

IMG_1879Summer glory

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.
rugged mountain Rocky tundra in fall

Caribou antler at trundra Spectacular  fall on tundra

Crowberry Crowberry on tundra

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.
Pond Inlet,Nunavut Picturesque Arctic shore mountains in winter

noon time in polar nightNoon time in polar night

Gallery | This entry was posted in Life in Arcitc, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Tundra – Arctic Series

  1. Carrie says:

    I love this series. It really does show the beauty in the tundra. You certainly have that special sense for capturing it as well. What a beautiful table top book you could make with the seasons of the Tundra. You are so right many people don’t know the beauty colors that exist there as well.

  2. aliceglz13 says:

    Isn’t it magnificent?! Unique weather condition, brave heart and beautiful lives striving in the spring! Oh!

  3. penpusherpen says:

    such amazing contrasts from season to season, … I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that tundra would yield such lush beauty… on display for a matter of months. before the weather changes.again. Gorgeous photo’s . xPenx..

  4. dengaiwu says:


  5. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally,
    it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your
    weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

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