THE TUNDRA, A VAST COLOURED CARPET
The strong wind and the lack of nutritive elements in the soil stunt the vertical growth of most Arctic plants, so instead they grow horizontally, forming a carpet of bilberries and lichens as well as flowering plants like bog-moss, saxifrage, cotton grass, catchfly, buttercups, sedge and Arctic poppies. The only plants that grow any higher than a few centimetres off the ground are trees such as dwarf birch and Arctic willow.
SURVIVING THE LONG, DARK WINTER
Arctic plants have a number of ways to prevent the chill wind from drying them out and blasting them with ice crystals: they spread out along the ground, they grow in tight cushions and thick carpets, and they grow in the lee of rocks and in sheltered hollow spots in the ground. Some are even able to dehydrate themselves so that their “fleshier” parts do not burst when the moisture freezes.
TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE SHORT NIGHT-LESS SUMMER
Even during the Arctic summer, the ground only thaws on the surface. The deeper levels are permafrost. But the plants, being small and close to the ground, can quickly take advantage of the sun’s heat reflected back by the ground. Other factors that help these plants grow and survive are: dark colouration to absorb solar energy, light-oriented leaves and flowers, and hairs to retain heat just like animal fur.
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The Polar POD expedition is one of the stamp of the pioners, a human adventure coupled with a technological challenge, an oceanographic exploration never before carried out which will mark a milestone in the discovery of the oceans.
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