Arctic tundra

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  • Arctic Tundra
    • Water cycle
      • low precipitation 50-350mm- most falling as snow
      • limited transpiration due to sparseness of vegetation cover and short growing season
      • low rates of evaporation-low temps
      • limited groundwater and soil stores- permafrost is barrier
      • melting of snow and lake ice in summer leads to increase in flooding
      • wetlands and ponds in summer due to permafrost impeding draining
      • physical factors, seasonal changes and stores and flows of the water cycle
        • water is stored as ground ice in the permafrost for most of the year- in summer active layer thaws- pools fill landscape which has poor drainage as it can infiltrate the soil
        • low permeability due to permafrost and crystalline rocks
        • minimal relief and glacial deposits impede drainage and contribute to water logging in summer
    • Carbon cylcle
      • permafrost is a vast carbon sink 1600GT- low temps so slow decomposition
      • flux of carbon is concentrated in summer months when active layer thaws- plants rapidly grow  tundra biomass is still small
      • during growing season plants input carbon, activity of micro organisms increases releasing co2 into atmosphere via respiration
      • in winter pockets of unfrozen soil and water act as a source of co2
      • permafrost is melting due to climate change therefore outputting carbon however more plants are growing so they can take in co2 so despite the warming climate the tundra could be balanced
      • physical factors, seasonal changes and stores and flows of the carbon cycle
        • carbon stored as decomposed plant remains in the permafrost-500,000 years
        • small carbon store in biomass due to low temps which limit amount of liquid water which limits plant growth
        • low temps and water logging slow decomposition and respiration and flow of co2 to atmosphere
    • impact of oil and gas production on carbon an water cycle
      • melting is associated with:
        • construction of oil and gas installations diffusing heat directly into the environment
        • dust along roadside creates a darkened road surface which absorbs sunlight
        • removal of vegetation which insulates the permafrost
      • on carbon cycle
        • permafrost melting releases co2, North slope-losses from permafrost was 7-40 million tonnes
        • Gas flaring and oil spillages input co2.
        • industrial development- degrading of tundra vegetation reduces uptake of co2, thawing of soil increases microbial activity, decomposition and the uptake of co2-regeneration of vegetation takes decades
      • on water cycle
        • melting of permafrost increases run off = flooding more likely. More extensive wetlands increases evaporation.
        • ***** mining creates artificial lakes which disrupts drainage and exposes permafrost to melting
    • management strategies
      • insulated ice and gravel pads-infrastructural features can be constructed on insulated pads- protects permafrost from melting
      • buildings and pipelines elevated- elevated infrastructure enables cold air to circulate beneath them- protects permafrost from heat
      • drilling laterally- new techniques allow oil and gas to be accessed from KMs away from drilling site. fewer sites needed the less impact there is on the vegetation and permafrost as construction is greatly reduced
      • fewer exploration wells are needed due to better technology that can detect oil and gas- better for environment

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