When you look at Canada on a map you see geographical boundaries that divide up one of the largest countries on earth. You hear us mention places like British Columbia and Yukon, or the Kawartha Region of Ontario... but what you don't hear mentioned is the actual diversity of the landscapes that we visit, and what the draw is for us.
From the tundra in the far reaches of the north, to the Boreal forest, the largest forest on earth, to the taiga, the world's largest land biome, and
This week we will be highlighting these three areas. So, please come back and visit our blog on Thursday and Friday to learn more about Canada, and the wonderful photographic opportunities that it has to offer.
Today we want to discuss the Tundra... home of the Polar Bear, the Arctic Fox and the summer home of the Snowy Owl.
Arctic tundra occurs in the far Northern Hemisphere, north of the taiga belt. The word "tundra" usually refers only to the areas where the subsoil is permafrost, or permanently frozen soil. Permafrost tundra includes vast areas of northern Russia and Canada. The polar tundra is home to several peoples who are mostly nomadic reindeer herders.
Arctic tundra contains areas of stark landscape and is frozen for much of the year. The soil there is frozen from 25–90 cm (10–35 in) down, and it is impossible for trees to grow. Instead, bare and sometimes rocky land can only support low growing plants such as moss, heath (Ericaceae varieties such as crowberry and black bearberry), and lichen. There are two main seasons, winter and summer, in the polar tundra areas. During the winter it is very cold and dark, with the average temperature around −28 °C (−18 °F), sometimes dipping as low as −50 °C (−58 °F). However, extreme cold temperatures on the tundra do not drop as low as those experienced in taiga areas further south (for example, Russia's and Canada's lowest temperatures were recorded in locations south of the tree line). During the summer, temperatures rise somewhat, and the top layer of seasonally-frozen soil melts, leaving the ground very soggy. The tundra is covered in marshes, lakes, bogs and streams during the warm months. Generally daytime temperatures during the summer rise to about 12 °C (54 °F) but can often drop to 3 °C (37 °F) or even below freezing. Arctic tundra’s are sometimes the subject of habitat conservation programs. In Canada and Russia, many of these areas are protected through a national Biodiversity Action Plan.
The biodiversity of tundra is low: 1,700 species of vascular plants and only 48 species of land mammals can be found, although millions of birds migrate there each year for the marshes. There are also a few fish species. There are few species with large populations. Notable animals in the Arctic tundra include caribou (reindeer), musk ox, Arctic hare, Arctic fox, snowy owl, lemmings, and polar bears (only near ocean-fed bodies of water).
Severe threat to tundra is global warming, which causes permafrost to melt. The melting of the permafrost in a given area on human time scales (decades or centuries) could radically change which species can survive there
The Antarctic tundra lacks a large mammal fauna, mostly due to its physical isolation from the other continents. Sea mammals and sea birds, including seals and penguins, inhabit areas near the shore, and some small mammals, like rabbits and cats, have been introduced by humans to some of the sub antarctic islands.
In 2016 and 2017 we will be headed back to photograph these animals and this captivating region. Please check out our tours and workshops. You can find these tours and workshops here on our Canadian Workshop and Tour page here... http://northof49photography.com/photo-workshops/