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Biomes and Regions of Northern Eurasia

The Mountains of Northern Russia

<<< The Mountains of North-eastern Asia | Biomes & Regions Index | The Mountains of Southern Siberia: Introduction >>>


Despite having much in common, the mountains of Northern Russia exhibit a wide range of environments from the relatively mild Urals to the extremely arid and cold highlands of north-eastern Asia. All areas have been influenced by the Quaternary climatic changes with the effects being most notable in the Khibins, Polar Urals, Putorana, the Verkhoyansk mountains, and the Koryak highland. These were centres of glaciation from which the ice advanced to the piedmont plains. However, despite their northern location, many uplands in the north-east remained free of ice as a result of the extremely arid climate which allowed the Pleistocene vegetation communities to survive. Thus, relict cryoarid steppes are a unique feature of the region. Some of the mountainous regions discussed in this chapter (e.g., the Urals) have been the subject of research for many years since their industrial potential has been long known and extensively developed. Others, such as the Putorana and the Khibins, have been extensively researched during the 20th century mainly as result of the discovery of vast non-ferrous metal deposits followed by the construction of large-scale industrial facilities and settlements. Human interference has been aggressive and exploitative. The damage it has inflicted on the fragile polar environments mainly through air pollution and deposition of sulphur and metals is immense. This continues, although in recent times much assistance has been provided by Scandinavian countries and economic decline has relieved the pressure to some extent. By contrast, regions located east of the Lena are still undeveloped and very imperfectly known despite the extensive scientific inquiries of the late 20th century. The Verkhoyansk mountains, the Arctic, and the Pacific coasts have received more attention both from the former Soviet research organizations and from international programmes in particular with respect to permafrost, cryogenic, and geomorphological processes and paleoclimatic interpretation of landforms and deposits. Other areas (e.g., the south-eastern Chersky mountains, the Koryak highland) remain among the world's most little known. There is a great need for detailed investigation of the physical geography of this enormous and often hostile area to establish its environmental history on both regional and local levels and to evaluate the response of its environments to climatic change on various time scales. This presents a great challenge for geographers in the 21st century.

<<< The Mountains of North-eastern Asia | Biomes & Regions Index | The Mountains of Southern Siberia: Introduction >>>



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