Jean-Louis Etienne
Jean-Louis Etienne - Alone on Ice pack
How man copes with the cold
Communications - Safety - Emergency assistance
Jean-Louis Etienne - Atmosphere & weather
The earth’s atmosphere  
Weather forecasting and modeling  
The climate and the north pole  
The solar energy balance  
The greenhouse effect  
Jean-Louis Etienne - Arctic ice
The ice pack: frozen saltwater  
Ice pack observation satellites  
Icebergs : frozen seawater  
The arctic ice: climate archives  
Ice ages and landscapes  
Jean-Louis Etienne - The ocean and marine life
The Arctic Ocean and the ocean currents  
Genesis of the arctic ocean  
Arctic plankton  
Oceanic biodiversity and the food chain  
Whales and other cetaceans  
Seals and walruses  
Jean-Louis Etienne - Life on land
Arctic flora  
Arctic fauna  
Polar bears  
Birds of the arctic  
Evolution of species and climate  
Jean-Louis Etienne - History and geography
Geography of the Arctic regions  
Geographic North Pole and magnetic North Pole  
Who owns the arctic ?  
Exploring the deep north  
The Inuit people  
The other peoples of the deep North  
The Arctic today  
Jean-Louis Etienne - Man's impact
Man and arctic biodiversity  
Pollution in the arctic  
Climate warming: the natural cycles  
The increase in the greenhouse effect  
The impact of global warming  
Life on land
Arctic flora

A vegetal world hidden by white
The lands inside the Arctic Circle are often vast expanses of snow in winter and patchworks of swamp and bare rock in summer. But hidden in this landscape are hundreds of species of flora -- 170 species observed in Spitsbergen and more than 500 in northern Norway) – and that doesn’t include the numerous species of algae, moss, lichen and mushroom.

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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