Forest islands Ary-Mas

For many thousands of kilometers to the north of the continents of Eurasia and North America, like other natural areas, extends an uninterrupted strip of different widths of the tundra. It is like a monotonous, treeless, swampy terrain. The frozen ground covered with moss, lichen and here and there small dwarf birches and willows. But this is not entirely true. It turns out that due to differences in surface and climate, the landscape in some of its areas is quite diverse. How here not to remember the forest islands of Ary-Mas. Ary-Mas is one of the most famous islets of representatives of the flora of other natural areas in the tundra. This is the peculiarity of the nature of the tundra, a great variety in the landscapes of which make the islands scattered along it, seemingly not inherent to it vegetation.

Ary-Mas is one of the most famous islets of representatives of the flora of other natural areas in the tundra

The forest islands of Ary-Mas are located among the severe tundra of the peninsula Taymyr for hundreds kilometers to the north of the taiga zone, by 72 grams. Surrounded by the tundra, they narrowly stretch along the high bank of the Novaya River, to the left tributary of the Khatanga River. These deserted so far to the north forest islands are exceptionally rare-growing larch, 4-7 m tall and 10-15 cm thick. 90 species of birds and 20 mammal species have also been found.

For scientists, the growth of woody vegetation on the harsh Taimyr is still a mystery. After all, many months frosts are raging here with air temperatures from times to 50-60 degrees. From below zero, a long polar night dominates with unusually dry air. The depth of thawing permafrost here in summer is 0,3-2 meter, the thickness of permafrost is about 200 meters.

In addition, there are very poor nutrient-rich soils, saturated with moisture, with a minimum of heat even in a short summer period, and a layer of permafrost that is the most powerful, measured in hundreds of meters.

Apparently, the forest islands of Ary-Mas are a remnant of prales, somehow preserved in modern harsh natural conditions. But why did this happen in Taimyr, while, for example, Iceland, located much farther south surrounded by ice-free seas and washed by the warm North Atlantic Current, is a treeless country?

The forest islands of Ary-Mas are a protected area of 156,11 km2. They form part of the Taimyr state natural biosphere reserve and have been protected since 1979.

And here, probably, one more paradox. Tundra Chukotka, endless swamps, mosses, lichens, dwarf shrubs and suddenly it is here, along the shores of the Chaun Bay of the cold Laptev Sea, in the valley of the Angoume river, on the steep and dry southern slopes of the mountains, typical... steppe areas, islets where it grows several species of sedge, fescue, sleep-grass, fescue, etc.

Similar steppe islands among the tundra are also known in other areas of the tundra zone, and even on Wrangel Island, located much further north, among the ice of the Chukchi Sea. How can this unusual phenomenon be explained? Scientists believe that steppe plants penetrated the island in the cold and severe era of the glacial period, when a large area of shallow waters of the Chukchi and Bering seas was land. And since in the prairies of North America the climate in those distant times favored their growth, steppe plants spread here through the tundra of Siberia.