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2 Northern Arctic
The land highlighted in blue is the Northern Arctic
Much of the Northern Arctic Ecozone consists of low rolling plains covered with soil and rock debris left by glaciers. In these areas, the landscape may be covered by nothing more than frost covered soils, frost-shattered limestone, and sandstone for hundreds of square kilometres. The area has numerous landscape features more commonly associated with the badlands of the American southwest.
Most of the islands north of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are found in the Northern Arctic.
Extending over most of the arctic islands, this is the coldest and driest part of the country. Winter nights last for days or even months, and average annual temperature is as low as -3ºC in the northerly part of the region. Precipitation is so low here, only 100 to 200mm a year, which the region can be classified as an arctic desert. July and August are the only months in which snow doesn't usually lie on the ground. Permafrost, constantly frozen ground, is present everywhere in this ecozone and can extend downwards for over a kilometre. Only a thin layer at the surface thaws during summer. The waters in the northern half of the Northern Arctic are always frozen, but the southern waters can be open in the summer, although ice still stays offshore throughout the year.
Geology and Geography
The western section of the ecozone is made up of of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rock. Towards the east, the bedrock is mostly Precambrian granite. Most of the Northern Arctic is flat or slightly rolling terrain. The west is littered with glacial deposits and shattered limestone. Plains may extend for several kilometres inland from the coast; once underwater, these plains are now rising as the continent rises after having been pushed down by glaciers during previous ice ages. The east is characterized by plateaus and rocky hills, which eventually lead to the Arctic Cordillera ecozone's mountains.
Soil and Vegitation
Arctic ground is characterized by low, rolling plains covered with soil and rock debris left behind by glaciers.
Limestone and sandstone debris is caused by frost.
Freezing and thawing of soil as a result of temperature changes contributes to mudslides.
In barren areas, lichen helps create soil by injecting enzymes into cracks in rocks that help break down the rocks into smaller particles.
The entire of the Northern Arctic lies above the tree line, so no full-sized tree species can be found here. Very few plant species can survive in these conditions. Plants are generally stunted and become more so to the north.
Some plants found here include purple saxifrage, mountain avens, arctic poppy, arctic willow, Dryas species, kobresia, sedges, cotton grass, moss, dwarf birch, northern Labrador tea, Vaccinium species, alder, alpine foxtail, wood rush, wire rush, moss campions, white arctic heather, arctic bladder campion, yellow oxytrope, mastodon flower, arctic lousewort, mountain sorrel, pygmy buttercup, river beauty, chickweed.
Only about twenty mammal species live here. The largest are the carnivorous polar bear, and arctic wolf and the herbivorous barren-land caribou and musk ox. The smaller carnivores found here include arctic fox, while smaller herbivores include the snowshoe hare, arctic hare. Marine mammals that live in the waters off the coast include walrus, seals, bearded, beluga, and various other whales.
Most of the bird species migrate to the Northern Arctic in spring to mate, leaving in fall. Birds of prey that can be found in the northern arctic include gyrfalcon, rough-legged hawk, and snowy owl. Waterfowl include snow goose, brant. Canada goose, oldsquaw duck, red-throated loon, arctic loon and king eider. Shorebirds and seabirds include the red knot, long-tailed Jaeger, northern fulmar, black-bellied plover, and ruddy turnstone. Some forest birds of the ecozone are the willow ptarmigan, rock ptarmigan, hoary redpoll, and snow bunting and Lapland longspur.
Amphibians and Reptiles
No reptiles or amphibians can survive the conditions here.
About 15 000 people live in the Northern Arctic, and the bulk of the population is Inuit. Most people live through survival activities, such as hunting, trapping and fishing, though gas and oil exploration also provide a living for some, many people travel to the Northern Arctic for tourism.
Things that you will find there will include Felsenmeer (frost-shattered rock) Boulder barricades, Coastal plain,Patterned ground, Scarp, Dissected plateau,Raised beach terraces, Sedimentary outcrop, and Frost-heaved rock.
Not many animals can survive in this condition so it is covered with many mammals and carnivore and has many birds!
Future of the ecozone
The future of this ecozone depends on its natural resources to help the wild life survive and over 100 billion is being donated to help wild live and natural resources in the north, diamond mines in the N.W.T.and Nunavut,coal and uranium investigations for better use of natural resources. Investments in these products represents a significant share of Canadas total capital investment.
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