Canadian Geographic
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INSIDE: The power of permafrost Go now!

Permafrost is made up of two layers: a thin “active” upper layer that melts in summer, and a thick underlying base of frozen ground that never melts.


Permafrost

Half of Canada lies within the Arctic and Taiga ecozones, which manifest some of the nation’s many climatic and environmental extremes. The Arctic is characterized by treeless tundra, carpeted with low-lying vegetation of mosses, lichens, herbs, and dwarf shrubs; and the Taiga, by sticklike forests of spruce and fir, interspersed with immense wetlands. The region’s marine ecozones — the Arctic and the Arctic Archipelago, including Hudson and James bays — are as vast and complex as the terrestrial ecozones. Given the immensity of these regions, few generalizations can be made about them that are totally valid. Yet, one thing is sure: the environment of these ecozones is fragile, slow to change, and easy to disturb. In earlier times, Europeans hunted for whales, seals, and furs; today, developers search for minerals, gas, and oil in a rich — but vulnerable — environment. Politically, these regions encompass Canada’s most sparsely populated regions: Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon’s coastal strip, and the northern parts of six provinces. The indigenous people who have long survived here are now reasserting control over their traditional domain.

On the next page:

Ecozones


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Quiz :

What is the depth of the waters in the Arctic basin?

Over 2,000 m
5,000 m
Between 500 and 1,000 m