AS Geography: Cold Environments FLASHCARDS NEEDED

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  • Created by: StevenFox
  • Created on: 06-03-16 13:33

Climate of cold environments


Influenced by...

Temperature/Latitude: Low insolation due to low angle of the overhead sun

Katabatic winds: Cold, chilled air flows down from the mountains, chilling the ground below

Albido:  Reflects much of the solar radiation

Relief/Orographic rainfall: Air which rises over the mountains and condenses, then falls

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Why Are Cold Environments Considered Fragile?

Ecosystems = Flora, Fauna, and soils

Human Factors: (Located example being oil industry in Alaska)

  • Oil Pipelines ---> [Trans-Alaska Pipline] Caribou migaration paths blocked, reducing numbers as they are unable to reach food or breeding sites
  • No sanitary landfill sites ---> Increased number of buildings (7,500 people) generates heat which melts permafrost leading to thermokarst layer
  • Predator attaction ---> Human activity & waste can attract predators like artic foxes etc who prey on nesting birds, disrupting the food chain 
  • Oil Spills ---> Has long lasting effects on environment (Up to 30yrs) and kills plants and casue animals, such as birds, unable to fly away and find food etc.

Physical Factors:

  • Low percipitation & sun exposure ---> means that Net Primary Productivity is low meaning that that isnt many plants around in the first place, additionally, it means there is less for the animals. 
  • Nutrients in soil & frozen ground ---> Due to poor nutrients levels and frozen ground, it makes it extrememly difficult for plants to absorb the limited supply of nurtients available.
  • Flucuations in animal populations ---> variations in animals such as artic hares over the course of the year have direct consequences on the populations of their predators, such as the artic fox and snowy owls.


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Oppurtunities & Issues Associated With The Develop

Case Study = Siberia & Oil Exploration


  • Oil ---> Over 600 fields with 144 billion barrels available - (66% of Russia's production) 
  • Gas ---> 1200 trillion cubic ft of gas available
  • Pipelines ---> Pipelines to China and Europe markets allow for huge economic benefit
  • Jobs ---> Creation of highly paid, skilled jobs. Encourgaes people to get better education so they can qualify
  • Infrastructure ---> With money raised, infrastrucutre like roads, airports and hospitals have been improved/created


  • Khanty People ---> Thousand of Khanty moved from their home territory, which they have lived on for over 5000 years. Have also lost thier reindeer herd
  • Oil Spills ---> in 1950, 50 million gallons was split
  • Permafrost ---> sinking due to pumping of oil (Subsidence)
  • Dependancy ---> Creates economic dependancy on oil, which is finite. Khanaty people have become westernised, leaving their old culutre behind with the use of technology, like snowmobiles, to which they are now dependant on. 
  • Political ---> Oil is becoming a politcal tool, leading to corruption and violence
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How Can Cold Environments Be Managed Sustainably?

Case Study: Antarctica

Short Term Gains:

  • Antactica is the worlds greatest wilderness, so hostile and remote it has no inhabitants (Apart from roughly 1000 winter scientists)
  • Very low population density and limited development but pressures for change are immense
  • Continent has reamined relatively unexplored and pressures for short term gains have been resisted

Sustainable Management:

  • 46 countries have signed Antarctic Treaty (80% of worlds population)
  • Been enforced for 50+ years and seen as an outstanding example of international cooperation, although nations not involved see it as a 'Rich Mans Club'
  • Military activity forbidden - only peacful scientific purposes allowed
  • 'Environemental Impact Assesments' are carried out on activity present there
  • As a result, Discharge of any waste type such as oil & chemicals is strictly forbidden and monitored by strict regulations
  • Tourism is strictly monitored, as ships with 500+ passaengers are discouraged whilst litering etc is prohibeted
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Formation of Glacier

Supply of snow > melting of ice

Continued compression forms into a Neve

Nivation & weathering erode the rock beneath

When the weight exceeds equilibrium, begins to advance

Plucking & abrasion

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How Can Cold Environments Be Managed Sustainably?

Case Study: Alps

Sustainable Management:

  • Education - Infomation boards around the Schwarzsee region, with a glacier path opened in 2005
  • Jute netting placed over cliff faces & vegetation to protect from wind and water damage
  • All building work is monitored by trained specialists to adhire to strict envrionmental policy
  • Segregated conseration areas fenced off, with game observation posts 
  • Protected from 'off-piste' skiing by building stone marginal walls to protect animals & plants
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Impact of climate & weathering on the physical lan

Plucking: Ripping out of material from the bedrock, ice moving slow enough so that i can freeze onto rock and pull it out

Abrasion: The 'sandpaper' effect of the glacier against the bedrock. The type of load carried affects the erosion rates. Coarser material leaves scrape and scratchs - striations and chatter marks. Whilst more polished material leaves smoother rock

Freeze-Thaw Weathering:

Water, perhaps from relief rainfall, lands between cracks and crevaces of the rock. Often occur in a deglaciation period where the pressure on the rock is decreased, revealings cracks and joints in the rock. This can also take place at the backwall of the glacier where meltwater flows down the Bergschrund and carries on its processes

Chemical Weathering by Meltwater: CO2 is more soluble at low tempretures. Therefore, meltwater streams within the glacier have the potential to become acidic and further weather rocks away

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Plant adaptations in cold environments

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