Cold Environments

This is a mindmap of the whole Cold Environments GCSE topic. I hope it helps!

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  • Cold Environments
    • TUNDRA AND POLAR.
      • Polar
        • Polar areas are very cold, normally below freezing. Winters tend to drop to -40C and ca reach -90C
        • Ice sheets cover polar areas, so no soil is exposed.
        • Polar areas have very few plants- lichens and mosses grow on rocks, and grasses grow on the coast.
        • Polar areas are largely uninhabited, but the Arctic has some indigenous residents and a few scientists work in Antarctica.
        • There are relatievly few species that live in these ecosystems. Wolves, reindeer, and  lemmings live in tundra areas.
      • Tundra
        • Tundra soil is thin, acidic and not very fertile. Beneath the soil is a layer of permafrost (frozen ground), holding in trapped greenhouse gases.
        • Tundras areas are also very cold. Warm months only reach a maximum of 10C while winters can plunge to -50C.
        • In tundra areas, hardy plants (such as bearberry), grasses,moss and lichens are common. Small, short trees may grow in warmer areas.
        • Tundra regions are home to many indigenous people, as well as oil and gas workers in larger towns.
        • There are relatively few species in these ecosystems. Polar bears, penguins, whales and seals are found in polar areas.
    • PLANT AND ANIMAL ADAPTATION.
      • The plants and animals have adapted to the cold, dry climate.
        • Plants in tundra environments have adapted to survive in the cold and strong winds.
          • 1) Most plants become dormant (also known as inactive) to survive the col, dark winters.
          • 2) Plants are low growing and round shaped to provide protection from the wind.
          • 3) Most plants have shallow roots because of the layer of permafrost beneath the soil layer.
          • 4) Leaves are generally small to limit the amount of moisture lost through transpiration.
          • 5)The warmer, wetter summer is very short, so most plants have adapted to have a growing season of just 50-60 days.
          • 6)Many plants reproduce using underground runners or bulbs to cope with the cold and because the growing season is short.
      • Animals in cold environments have also adapted to the cold, snowy conditions.
        • 1) Animals in cold environments tend to be well-insulated. They might have thick fur like polar bears or have a layer of blubber like seals. This reduces the amount of energy they have to use to keep warm.
        • 2)Some animals hibernate to conserve energy and survive the winter.E.g, Arctic ground squirrels hibernate for 7-8 months of the year and can survive if their body temperature drops below freezing.
        • 3)Animals that don't hibernate have adapted to survive on he limited food sources available, e.g reindeer eat lichens during the winter.
          • 4)Many birds migrate to warmer areas for winter. I.E, Arctic terns live in the Arctic during the northern hemisphere summer, then fly to the Antarctic for the southern hemisphere summer.
            • 5) Many Antarctic animals grow white winter coats for camouflage- this helps predators to sneak up on their prey, and helps prey to hide in the snow, e.g, some weasels(also called ermines), Arctic foxes and Arctic hares.
  • Tundra
    • Tundra soil is thin, acidic and not very fertile. Beneath the soil is a layer of permafrost (frozen ground), holding in trapped greenhouse gases.
    • Tundras areas are also very cold. Warm months only reach a maximum of 10C while winters can plunge to -50C.
    • In tundra areas, hardy plants (such as bearberry), grasses,moss and lichens are common. Small, short trees may grow in warmer areas.
    • Tundra regions are home to many indigenous people, as well as oil and gas workers in larger towns.
    • There are relatively few species in these ecosystems. Polar bears, penguins, whales and seals are found in polar areas.
  • Cold environments are inter dependent, and fragile ecosystems.
    • The Biotic (living) components of cold environments(plants,animals,people) and the Abiotic(non-living) components    (soil, climate , permafrost) are closely related- many of them are dependent on each other.
      • The cold climate causes plants to grow and decompose slowly, when they die, so plant cover is low. This means that the soil is relatively low in nutrients, further limiting plant growth.
      • Herbivores such as reindeer who rely on plants such as mosses to survive must migrate to areas where plants are ale to grow. Carnivores. such as wolves have to follow the herbivores.
      • In summer, when tundra has greater plant cover,the surface plants absorb heat from the sun. preventing the permafrost below from thawing. The permafrost provides water for the plants.
    • Changes to one component of the ecosystem can have a knock on effect to the whole ecosystem.
      • If humans trample a lot of plants, the soil s exposed to sunlight and warms up. This may thaw the permafrost, saturating soil and preventing plant growth. With fewer plants to eat, animals will struggle to find enough food to survive.
      • Melting permafrost also releases greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.
  • Cold environments have biodiversity.
    • 1) Antarctica is one example. There are fewer species of plants and animals in cold environments than most other environments
    • 2) Low biodiversity means when the population of one species changes it can affect the population of dependent species e.g, changes to lemming populations will affect the populations of their predators e.g Arctic foxes.
      • 3) Global warming is causing some species to move towards poles, where it is colder, in response to temperature rises in their natural habitat.
        • Species already adapted to polar environments cant go anywhere colder.
          • The species are then at risk of decline or extinction if climate change causes polar areas to warm up too much.

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