Contributions to Antarctic Research II

Contributions to Antarctic Research II

Editor(s): David H. Elliot

Published Online: 14 MAR 2013

Print ISBN: 9780875908090

Online ISBN: 9781118667927

DOI: 10.1029/AR053

About this Book

Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Antarctic Research Series, Volume 53.

The Cold Deserts of Antarctica and the Polar Deserts of the High Arctic, the latter of which includes the Queen Elizabeth Islands, northern Greenland, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya, and a few other localities, have cryogenic soils with desertlike features. Both sectors have soils with a mineral appearance, desert pavement, small to nonexistent organic components, and low ground temperatures. Both are underlain by permafrost and are subject to cryogenic processes. Whereas virtually all of the soils in Antarctica are well drained, in the High Arctic the soil pattern consists of a mosaic of Polar Desert soils, as well as various hydric varieties including shallow bogs. In the Polar Deserts the landforms, especially the surficial deposits, are much younger chronologically than their Cold Desert counterparts. Polar Desert soils generally have a more acid reaction than Cold Desert soils. Moisture regimes are quite different in the two sectors. Cold Desert soils have a dry condition even down to the frost table. Polar Desert soils are moist during early summer thaw, however, and are subjected to occasional summer rainfall and probably receive some moisture from condensation; the zone above the receding frost table is usually quite wet. The humus component in Cold Desert soils is usually nil, but in the Polar Desert soils it is commonly as much as 1% to 2% or higher, especially in medium?]textured soils. Whether there are enough distinct differences between the two soils to recognize two different categories remains somewhat moot. After equating all information, however, one appears to be justified in tentatively recognizing two distinct soils.

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