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Cold Regions

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  1. Cold Regions In Global Environmental Change Introductions Basic concepts Definitions

  2. What constitutes a region?(Revisiting Geo 105) • Formal • Some characteristic is homogeneous • Functional • Characteristic has a central node, diminishes with distance • Vernacular • Perceptual region, a region that exists as part of a people’s cultural identity

  3. Why is the concept of a region useful? • Can distinguish between areas – helps to understand process similarities and differences • Understand how differences influence interactions between regions • Understand how processes and differences affect rates of diffusion • Explain processes through understanding interactions across space

  4. What kind of regions are cold regions? • Formal • Homogeneous physical processes, strongly influenced by freezing temperatures. • Latitudes higher than 66.5°; altitudes above snow line. • Functional • Extent influenced by a particular process (e.g., influence of arctic sea ice, extent of vegetation of non-arboreal species). • Vernacular • Inuit and Saami perceptions of “home”, “hunting grounds” • Southerners perception of “The Great White North”. • Can we map cold regions? • Yes and no • Depends on definition…

  5. Where? • High Latitude • Arctic • Antarctic • High Altitude • alpine

  6. Arctic

  7. Arctic

  8. Antarctica West Antarctica East Antarctica

  9. Space shuttle view of the Andes

  10. Space shuttle view of the Himalayas

  11. Eagle Summit, Alaska – 66.5ºN, March Tromsø, Norway – 69.5ºN, September Geographic Delineation • Latitude • 66 33’ N and S • http://www.athropolis.com/sun-fr.htm • Weaknesses

  12. Other Definitions • Snowline • Vegetation • Tundra-forest ecotone, related to potential evapotranspiration (Thornthwaite, 1948) • Climate • Koppen (1936), 10°C July isotherm • Permafrost

  13. Other Definitions (2) • Snowline • Vegetation • Tundra-forest ecotone, related to potential evapotranspiration (Thornthwaite, 1948) • Climate • Koppen (1936), 10°C July isotherm • Permafrost

  14. Vegetation of CircumArctic Source: http://maps.grida.no/arctic/

  15. Other Definitions (3) • Snowline • Vegetation • Tundra-forest ecotone, related to potential evapotranspiration (Thornthwaite, 1948) • Climate • Koppen (1936), 10°C July isotherm • Permafrost

  16. Other Definitions (4) • Snowline • Vegetation • Tundra-forest ecotone, related to potential evapotranspiration (Thornthwaite, 1948) • Climate • Koppen (1936), 10°C July isotherm • Permafrost

  17. Permafrost Distribution

  18. Why or why not study cold environments? • Sparsely populated? • US has few interests? • Doesn’t matter if climate changes there? • I’ve never visited and never plan to?

  19. Why? (from an entirely americentric viewpoint!) • Sparsely populated? • True, but how important are cold regions to the global and US economy (addresses point 2 also?) • Where does most US territory oil come from? • Where are the most strategic military sites (particularly during the cold war)? • What’s the shortest route between the U.S. and Asia and Russia? • Where does New York State buy much of its electric power from? • Where are many of the largest world coal and mineral reserves? • US has few interests? • Alaska is primarily in a cold environment. Its economy and population are part of US interest. AK is one of the country’s largest oil producing states. • Ski industry is based in cold environments. Skiing is a multimillion $ industry. • Mountain tourism, tourism in Alaska, all bring in foreign exchange.

  20. Why? • I’ve never visited and never plan to? • What’s wrong with learning about places you’ve never been? It might help alleviate all sorts of international conflict if citizens were more “global” in their knowledge. • Doesn’t matter if climate changes there? • Well, actually. . . That’s what this course is really all about. The answer to this question will be discussed throughout the semester, with the conclusion that, yes, it does matter if climate changes there.