Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - 10:15 AM

Latitudinal Zonation of Polar Soils.

John C. Tedrow, Rutgers University, 14 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Northern polar lands, once described simply as being mantled with poorly drained soils underlain by permafrost are now known to have a multiplicity of soil conditions present. This report recognizes both tundra and polar desert soil zones in the north, largely as depicted by Gorodkov (1939), but also adds a transitional zone between the two, designated as subpolar desert. Within each soil zone, however, there are many local soil conditions present depending upon geologic materials, drainage, age of the landscape, depth to the frozen soil layers, frost action, plant cover and other related factors. Formal soil studies in southern polar lands largely post date the World War II era. Markov (1956) introduced the term cold desert (a.k.a. frigic) to characterize soils in Antarctica and the nearby islands. The cold desert zone is recognized as a low temperature attenuation of the polar desert zone. Soils in the vicinity of the northern Antarctic Peninsula and Enderbyland, however, have some Polar desert affinities. Islands of the southern ocean north of the ice floes are considered to be within the maritime tundra soil zone. The reason for recognizing this special soil zone is that there are virtually no typical Tundra soils present in this sector. Numerous climatologists, plant geographers, and pedologists have already designated this island area as maritime tundra. Within the maritime tundra soil zone there are also prominent Bog soils and infrequent, poorly developed Arctic brown soils present. 1 Gorodkov, B.N. (1939). Izv. Gosud. Geogr. Obsch. 71:1516-1532. 2 Markov, K.K. (1956). Vest. Moskovskogo Univ., 11, Geogr. (1) pp. 1939-1948.

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