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Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases

By Olga Gertcyk
16 October 2019

Discovery of rich vegetation only 1000 miles away from North Pole surprises scientists.

The photographed area is 70th parallel north - with a distance to North Pole of only 1043 miles - where Russia has its northernmost residential settlements of Western Siberia. Picture: Sergey Loiko

‘Blooming’ might be the last word to associate with the Arctic, yet pictures below show meadows bursting with life as brightly-coloured flowers blossom in lush green grass.

And while vegetation in khasyreis, basins of drained Arctic lakes, is less of a surprise, researchers discovered ‘bursts of life’ next to a residential settlement where permafrost ice veins were broken when people dug sand pits.

The photographed area is 70th parallel north - with a distance to North Pole of only 1043 miles - where Russia has its northernmost residential settlements of Western Siberia. 

There, in bleak Arctic tundra summer-2019 expedition organised by Tomsk State University found oases of rich vegetation formed in places of actively thawing permafrost.

Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases


Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases


Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases


Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases


Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases
‘Blooming’ might be the last word to associate with the Arctic, yet pictures show meadows bursting with life as brightly-coloured flowers blossom in lush green grass. Pictures: Sergey Loiko


As researchers explained, initially ice veins in permafrost were broken when people dug sand pits.

Over time disturbed permafrost thawed and enriched soil with minerals from its deep frozen layers. As soil above permafrost continued to move, broken cover of moss and lichen also subsided, preparing space for seeds of herbs and cereals.

Warm summers sped up seeds germination, so that when Russian researchers arrived they saw carpets of herbs and flowers, with daisies, dandelions, polar poppies, horsetail, several types of wormwood, cereals and even willow growing in Arctic ‘oases’. 

Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases


Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases

Tomsk State University's expedition pictured during summer 2019 expedition to the Yamal Peninsula. Pictures: Sergey Loiko

It all came as a surprise as the expedition travelled to the Yamal peninsula with a different aim - to study dried-up basins of local lakes, or ‘Khasyreys’ - and didn’t expect to see signs of such active vegetation elsewhere. 

‘Khasyreis usually form over quite a long time, in decades actually’, said Sergey Loiko, senior researcher at laboratory for biogeochemical and remote methods of monitoring the environment at Tomsk State University (TSU). 

Nowadays as Tomsk expedition confirmed, Khasyreys take just weeks to form.

Poppies, dandelions and daisies bloom in never before seen Arctic oases


The photographed area is 70th parallel north - with a distance to North Pole of only 1034 miles - where Russia has its northernmost residential settlements of Western Siberia

Discovery of rich vegetation only 1000 mile away from North Pole surprises scientists. Pictures: Sergey Loiko

In summer 2016 which was quite hot, one lake drained entirely in less than a month through gaps in thawing permafrost. By the time Tomsk expedition arrived to the lake its bed was covered with herbs and cereals.

Russian researchers concluded that Khasyreis were forming much faster during the past 30 years, doubling the number of such landscapes in Arcric tundra and showing there is tendency for the Arctic to become warmer and greener. 

While it was surprising to discover oases of lush vegetation so high up in the Arctic, researchers believe this is the smallest of the issues. Potential threat to the infrastructure is more worrying. 

‘Local thermokarst is not as worrying as it might seem as Arctic plants formed in the Pleistocene under the influence of constant moderate disturbances. The local flora is well adapted to it. Permafrost thawing is undesirable because of potential threat to infrastructure, because of potential damage it might cause to roads’, Sergey Loiko explained. 

In the future, changes and expansion of the Arctic flora might lead to appearance of a bigger variety of fauna and bring over animals that have never populated this area.

Comments (5)

haistan heitä nyt
itse, maailmaa
28/10/2019 00:41
0
0
Estoy de acuerdo con claire, aunque tambien podria representar un peligro ya que hace milenios podria estar atrapados en esos lugares. Patogenos,, virus que podrian representar una verdadera amenaza para todo ser vivo...
Joseluis, Peru
22/10/2019 01:58
0
0
Might this not be another example of the Pole Shift from Baffin Island to northeast of Greenland? Physicists have documented the Schumann resonance dropping in preparation of a magnetic field shift which might include a physical pole shift from one location to another. Not the Earth flipping over! But the magnetic pole relocating. The area above would NOT therefore be IN THE ARTIC CIRCLE anymore. For example: If the pole has shifted 650 (10 degrees approx)to the East, then the areas in the photos may be 1650 miles from the pole.


It doesn't have to be a "the sky is falling" climate change scare! It could, in actuality, be a NORMAL Earth process that has been documented as having occurred MANY TIMES IN THE PAST.!


The climate changes EVERY DAY, EVERY SEASON, EVERY YEAR, EVERY DECADE, ETC. Change is the ONLY constant in the Universe. The Universe is DYNAMIC not static. Being static means you are dead.
Claire CdeBaca, United States
20/10/2019 00:37
9
1
Beautiful flora. Unfortunately, at the expense of millennia old permafrost, and another example of the changing of the planet's dynamics, for better or worse. Who knows what the net effect will be. Time will tell, I suppose. Great article. Thanks!
Chad Hammond, United States
17/10/2019 13:48
3
1
would be also nice if someone will find time to clear out and clean up all the Soviet trash left behind there?When i was working on the Jennisei river we had an old man showing us bits and pieces of fossiles. Amongst them pieces of palm trees. This was a retired guy who had all his life worked out there. and knew what he was talking about.After all mammoths were roaming the plaines. And they were not licking ice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Morak Benedikt, Moscow
17/10/2019 06:16
11
0
1

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