Human uses

Human activity in cold environments
You need to be able to:
Describe the local economies of the indigenous population and how they have changed
Explain how the resources of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica have been exploited by newcomers
Describe the challenges of living in a the physical environment and the human activities that go on there
Define what we mean by wilderness areas
Explain what a fragile environment is

The economy, resource exploitation and human activities
Human wildernesses– Tundra areas

Resource exploitation by newcomers
· 17th Century
Use by outsiders
Sealing, whaling, trapping for fur, mining for gold in particular
· Last 100 years
Larger scale and dramatic impacts on the indigenous people
Mining for oil
Production of HEP
Geo-politics of the USA positions in the Second world war

Human activities and the physical environment

Living in tundra areas is difficult due to a number of reasons:
· Very low temperatures
· Short summers and therefore short growing seasons
· Low precipitation
Thin, stony, poorly developed soils
· Permafrost
· Surface thaw in summer leading to waterlogging
· Snow lying for long periods
· Blizzards

Indigenous people have adapted there ways to cope with the climate and to make the most of the limited resources:

· Problems
Clearing ground vegetation for building from the ground surface – reduces insulation and results in a deepening of the active layer of permafrost – more flooding
Vehicle tracks can damage the vegetation as it takes a long time to grow
Buildings spread up this process by spreading heat into the ground
Leads to a ‘thermokarst’ – a landscape of topographic depression characterised by extensive areas of irregular, hummocky ground interspersed with waterlogged hollows
Leads to ground subsidence (sinking) – damage to roads and buildings

· Solutions
New building methods are more expensive than conventional construction
Adding to costs of living in the region
Continual maintenance is often necessary
Some methods include:
· Smaller buildings elevated above the ground
· Allows air to circulate so the heat is not conducted into the ground
· Buildings built on pads which acts like the insulating vegetation
Other issues in tundra areas
Hunting – over exploitation
Transport – risk of spillages, road vehicles damaging the ground
Tourism – vegetation removal, litter and waste not easily degraded
General air pollution

Below are two parts of a very useful Bruce Parry documentary covering the use of resources in the Tundra