Amery Oasis and Dome Argus

Coldest place on Earth, mountains buried in ice, and river gorges made by vanished rivers

I. Map Boundaries: 70 to 80 degrees South, 60 to 90 degrees East

II. Country: Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (Station operated by China at Dome Argus)

III. Overview

Amery Ice Shelf and Lambert Glacier occupy a deep rift valley, one of the most prominent bays or indentations in the solid wall of icy land and mountains that is East Antarctica. Lambert is the largest valley glacier in the world. Below the ice of the Amery Ice Shelf, a marine community thrives underneath 700 m of ice and over 1200 m of sea water. Drilling during 2005 into the ice shelf by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life indicates that sponges, fan worms, urchins, and sea snails are abundant.

To the west of the Amery Ice Shelf, the Prince Charles Mountains rise. Approximately 500 million years ago, the Prince Charles Mountains were joined with the western Ghats of India as part of one mountain range. The Amery Oasis, located just west of Amery Shelf, is an ice-free area with a river gorge from a now-vanished river. Coal seams contain fossilized tree remains. Continue reading

Haughton, Napartulik, and Simirlik

Mars on Earth, where fish came ashore and mammals went back to the sea, a mummified forest, and a gull that nests on nunatuks

I. Map boundaries: 70 to 80 degrees North; 60 to 90 degrees West. The center of this area is about 2,000 miles north of Quebec City. This map contains ecoregion boundaries (terrestrial and marine), important bird area locations, national wildlife area locations, migratory bird sanctuary locations, river names, fiord names, fossil locations, and mine locations not found on atlas maps.

II. Countries: Canada (Nunavut-part of Qikiqtaaluk Region); Denmark (Qaasuitsup municipality of Kalaallit Nunaat, or Greenland)

III. Overview

If you start at Quebec City and head 2,000 miles north, you would reach the area of this map. This map area includes northern Baffin Island, eastern Devon Island, eastern Axel Heiberg Island, southern Ellesmere Island, and the Hayes Peninsula of Greenland. Ecologically, this is an area of arctic tundra. However, the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund ecoregions project has delineated the tundra into five different terrestrial ecoregions and six different marine ecoregions in this map area, based on vegetation and wildlife present. Continue reading

Alexander Island and Ellsworth Mountains

Standing Fossil Forests, Melting Ice Shelves, and Subglacial Lakes

I. Map boundaries: 70 to 80 degrees South; 60 to 90 degrees West

II. Country: Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (British Antarctic Survey stations at Fossil Bluff on Alexander Island and Sky Blu in Palmer Land)

III. Overview

Ice shelves in the Bellingshausen Sea are melting, making map-making a moving target. The attached map shows the grounding lines on US Geological Survey maps published for the area; the geography is subject to change as the polar regions warm and coastal features are revealed. The more northerly Wilkins Ice Shelf collapsed in 2009 between Charcot Island and Latady Island and is no longer connected to Charcot Island. The Bryan Coast contains a 250-km long ice wall along the Bellingshausen Sea coast.

In southern Alexander Island, nunatuks (rocky mountaintops) stick up above the ice sheet and reveal fossil forests still standing upright. Roots can still be excavated from fossil soils. A diverse flora of fern fossils has been found that links this flora to the Gondwana floras also found in the Cretaceous in Australia, India, and South America. Gondwana broke up about 150 million years ago. West Antarctica is made up of unstable remnants (crustal blocks) of Gondwana. On this map are the Gondwana remnants of the Antarctic Peninsula, Haag Nunatuks, and Ellsworth Mountains. The Ellsworth Mountains rise to 16,000 feet in elevation at Vinson. Continue reading

Kara Sea

Great Arctic Nature Reserve, great estuaries, and great gas fields

I. Map boundaries: 70 to 80 degrees North; 60 to 90 degrees East

II. Country: Russia (Archangel Oblast: Nenetsia Autonomous Region-Vaygach Island and Archangel Oblast-Novaya Zemlya, Krasnoyarsk Oblast, and Tyumen Oblast: Yamilia Autonomous Region)

III. Overview

High arctic tundra surrounds the Kara Sea, and the sea itself is notable for its extensive area of shallow continental shelf. To the west of the Kara Sea is Novaya Zemyla, and the north island (Severny) is shown on the map. Cape Zhelaniya at the tip of the north island is considered to the northeast tip of Europe. To the south and east are the high arctic islands of Russia, the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas, and the Pyasina Delta and islands. The Yenisei River and Bay represents a biogeographical boundary between the western and eastern Siberian floras. Sibiryakova Island and the Gydan Peninsula are part of the western area and the mainland just to the east in the Pyasina watershed is part of the eastern flora area. Continue reading