The variety of plants and animals living in a particular ecosystem.
Permanently frozen ground, typical of tundra and polar regions.
What is a cold environment?
Tundra and Polar environments are classed as cold environments.
- Extreme cold environments are those that experience temperatures below 0°c like Antarctica. Less extreme cold environments experience extremely cold winters like those in the Arctic circle.
Where are cold environments located?
Polar environments are found at 90°N and 90°S of the equator (Arctic and Antarctica)
Tundra environments are at high latitudes in the Northern hemisphere (Northern Canada, Northern Russia). Not in the Southern hemipshere due to lack of land at these latitudes.
What is the climate (temperature and precipitation) like in cold environments (polar and tundra)?
Polar: -40°c, less than 100mm rainfall per year
Tundra: -20°c, less than 380mm rainfall per year
Why are cold environments cold and generally dry?
Cold - they are a high latitudes, further from the equator so the suns rays are less concentrated here
Dry - located at high pressure where air is descending.
What is the soil like in cold environments (polar and tundra)?
Polar: covered in ice
Tundra: covered in permafrost (permanently frozen ground)
What wildlife would you find in cold environments (polar and tundra)?
Polar: polar bears, penguins, well adapted to the cold climate, limited vegetation, mainly lichens.
Tundra: Arctic fox, hares, low bushes and mosses.
How have animals adapted to cold environments?
- Thick fur to insulate against cold
- Camouflage white coat
- Many can survive on limited food or they hibernate during winter
How have plants adapted to cold environments?
- Most vegetation is short and dome shaped to protect against winds
- Small leaves to reduce moisture loss
- Shallow roots due to layer of permafrost
What is the biodiversity like of cold environments?
- Limited due to extreme climate
- This means any changes can have drastic consequences
- Climate change is the biggest threat to cold environment biodiversity.
What are the opportunities in the cold environment of Alaska?
Tourism: 2 million tourists per year. Attracted by scenery
Mining: Gold, silver and iron ore. Worth $2.2 billion in 2013
Energy exploitation (oil and gas): 50% of wealth comes from oil & gas
Fishing: large fish stocks i.e. salmon. Worth $5billion. Employs nearly 80,000 people.
What are the challenges facing the cold environment of Alaska?
Extreme climate: lows of -10°c, strong winds and snow.
Inaccessibility: icy roads. Long distance from other locations. Mountainous terrain.
Provision of buildings: difficult terrain to build on.
Infrastructure: difficult to construct throughout the year.
Why are cold environments valuable?
- Areas of biodiversity
- Many areas are uninhabited and not destroyed
- Area of scientific study
- They are vulnerable to changes in climate, species and may not be able to recover
List the four strategies used to balance the economic development and conservation of cold environments
- Use technology
- Conserve the areas
- International agreements
- Government regulation
How can technology be used to balance the economic development and conservation of cold environments
Building buildings on gravel or elevating buildings so that the heat does not melt permafrost and cause subsidence.
Eg: Developing the Trans-Alaskan pipline to channel oil across the country rather than in ships around the coast.
How has the Trans-Alaskan pipeline solved challenges of oil drilling in Alaska?
1. Prevents the hot pipes filled with oil, melting the permafrost
2. The pipes can slide in the event of an earthquake to avoid spilling oil from cracked pipes
3. Pipes are raised high to allow animals to migrate underneath
How can conservation be used to balance the economic development and conservation of cold environments
Conservation groups help to protect wilderness environments from harmful development. They put pressure on the government to ensure protection.
eg: WWF in Canada: support scientific research, work with oil companies to minimise damage, support local communities.
How can international agreements be used to balance the economic development and conservation of cold environments
These are global scale agreements that protect areas.
Eg: Antarctica is protected by the Antarctic Treaty (1959) The treaty aimed to reduce visitor numbers, prevent harmful activities such as military testing.
How can the role of a government can be used to balance the economic development and conservation of cold environments
Governments should regulate developments to ensure that they are sustainable and do not harm the environment.
Eg: Western Arctic Reserve protects 9 million hectares of wilderness to ensure oil drilling does not harm wildlife e.g. caribou, polar bears.
Why are cold environments interdependent ecosystems?