8 junio, 2024

Perpetual ice: what they are, characteristics, climate, flora, fauna

What are the permafrost?

The permafrost They are those places that present temperatures below -30 degrees and -10 degrees, where precipitations in the form of hail also occur. They are found at the poles; in the Arctic and Antarctic.

They are called perpetual ice, because their geological formation, composed of mountain ranges, soils, and plateaus, is permanently covered with ice with polar or high mountain climates.

The known areas of planet Earth that are characterized by having these conditions are the Arctic and Antarctic.

The perpetual ice of the world

– The Artic

The Arctic is located in the northernmost part of our planet. Scientists usually define it as the area above the Arctic Circle, an imaginary line that encircles the top of the globe.

The Arctic Circle marks the latitude above which the sun does not set on the summer solstice and rise on the winter solstice. At the North Pole, the sun rises and sets once a year: there are six months of continuous light and six months of night.

At lower latitudes, but north of the Arctic Circle, the duration of the day and continuous night is shorter.

The size and shape of the Arctic Ocean basin is similar to that of the Antarctic continent, reaching more than 4,000 meters deep in some areas. It is covered for the most part by ice ice (frozen sea water) averaging 2-3 meters thick. The following map shows the Arctic Ocean:

Ice drifts around the polar basin under the influence of winds and currents, breaking up during blizzards and then refreezing.

It covers the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, the United States, Greenland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. Temperatures as low as -70°C have been recorded in northern Greenland.

Other researchers usually define it based on temperature. Under this premise, the Arctic includes any location in high latitudes where the average daily summer temperature does not rise above 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).

Arctic ice contains about ten percent of the world’s fresh water. This giant, white, frozen reservoir reflects sunlight, helping to keep the region cool. It plays a very important role in keeping our global climate stable.

The climate in the Arctic can have a strong effect on atmospheric conditions in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, both in the short term and in the long term.

arctic wildlife

Many Arctic animals have developed special adaptations and behaviors to cope with the cold environment. These include thick, multi-layered coats, fur that changes color with the seasons, fat for insulation, seasonal migration, and hibernation during winter.

Some of the land parts of the Arctic, such as Greenland, are covered with ice sheets. Others do not have lush tundra, which supports large mammals such as caribou, bears, wolves, and foxes. In summer, migratory birds and other wildlife come to the Arctic for the purpose of raising their young.

Walrus

Odobenus rosmarus It is a huge mammal that can weigh up to 1,700 kg in the case of males. It has three subspecies that are divided by the seas of Siberia, the Canadian Arctic or the North Pacific. Its thick skin and huge incisors are its hallmark.

arctic flora

The treeless, windless plains of the arctic tundra sometimes appear barren, but they are inhabited by a multitude of plants and animals.

The vast majority of land that includes the northern strata of Canada, Alaska, Russia, and Greenland is covered in ice, which does not allow for perfect plant growth, but in the southern part of the tundra, where temperatures are somewhat less frigid. , it is likely to find vast coniferous forests.

Potentilla chamissonis

This herbaceous plant can be found in the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, and Norway. It measures between 10 and 25 cm and has flowers with five yellow petals.

– The antartida

Antarctica is located over the South Pole in what is called the Antarctic Circle. It is a very rough circular shape with the long arm of the peninsula extending into South America. There are two great indentations, the Ross and Weddell seas, and their ice shelves.

Its total area is 14.2 million square kilometers in summer, but in winter it doubles in size due to sea ice that forms around the coasts. The true border of Antarctica is not the coast of the mainland or the outer islands, but the Antarctic Convergence. Antarctica can be seen on this map:

There is little evaporation from Antarctica, so the little snow that does fall does not disappear again. Instead, it accumulates over hundreds and thousands of years in enormously thick ice sheets.

More than 98 percent of Antarctica is covered in ice and contains about 70 percent of the world’s fresh water. The thick ice cover makes it the highest of all the continents, with an average elevation of about 2,300 meters at sea level.

Antarctic flora

Antarctica has no trees or shrubs at all. Vegetation is limited to about 350 species of lichens, mosses, and algae. In some parts of the Antarctic Peninsula there are lush clumps of vegetation. Lichens have been discovered growing on isolated mountains 475 km from the South Pole.

Where the rock is bare by ice for large parts of the summer, green lichens growing to a few centimeters tall can give the impression of a field of dark grass from a distance. Three species of flowering plants are also found on the Antarctic Peninsula.

In some places on the Antarctic continent, such as in dry valleys, instead of growing on rocks, some algae actually grow on rock.

Conditions are so harsh, particularly from strong, dry winds and blown sand and dust, that it is easier to live in the porous rock despite low light levels, than it is exposed on the surface.

lichens

This organic compound grows in the terrestrial layer where flowers do not grow. Curiously, the melting suffered by the Antarctic areas is causing lichens to populate this ecosystem.

Antarctic wildlife

Most vertebrates depend on the sea for food, or are migratory and leave the continent when winter comes.

Therefore, the largest Antarctic animals are invertebrates only a few millimeters in size. These animals, mites, ticks, and nematode worms tolerate low temperatures in winter by freezing into ice under rocks and stones.

They have antifreeze in their bodies and stop their bodily functions while frozen, becoming active when the ice gets hot enough to melt.

Furthermore, the oceans surrounding the continent are teeming with vast amounts of life. Large numbers of whales feed on the rich marine life, especially krill.

Six species of seals and 12 species of birds live and breed in Antarctica. Crabeater seals are the second most numerous mammal on the planet after humans.

The most famous inhabitant of Antarctica is the penguin. A flightless bird, but an excellent swimmer. They breed on land or ice surfaces along the coast and on islands. Emperor penguins are the best known and most typical.

Emperor penguin

Endemic bird of the most popular Antarctica. They are characterized by their large size and adaptation to cold, withstanding very low temperatures. It feeds on krill, crustaceans and other cephalopods.

References

Antarctica Fact File. Recovered from coolantarctica.com.
Arctic animal list. Recovered from activewild.com.
Dive and Discover. Retrieved from divediscover.whoi.edu.

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