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taiga Taiga refers to a nearly continuous belt of evergreen coniferous forests across the Northern Hemisphere, including Russia. This is the largest forest in the world. WildLife photography in Siberia and Central Asia by Oleg Kosterin used with permission
steppe Steppe is the term used for the temperate grassland regions in the Northern Hemisphere. WildLife photography in Siberia and Central Asia by Oleg Kosterin used with permission pisum.bionet.nsc.ru/kosterin/landscap/ altai/chuiskaya2.htm
chernozem Chernozem is black topsoil, one of the world’s most fertile soils. Chernozem is found in the north European plain in Ukraine and Russia. Used with permission
tundra Tundra is the term for the flat, treeless lands forming a ring around the Arctic Ocean. In the tundra, the climate is extremely cold. Used with permission. Photo is the property of Lyn Gualtieri, University of Washington Permission requested
permafrost Permafrost is permanently frozen soil found where the ground temperature remains below 0°C. It exists where summer heating fails to reach the base of the layer of frozen ground. No copyright
This NASA image of the Northern Hemisphere shows the areas of permafrost — the tundra regions of Asia, Europe, and North America. permafrost or permanently frozen ground
Buildings built on permafrost may collapse when the heat generated by the building thaws the ground. The photo above is an example of what can happen to a building built on ground that is permanently frozen. Houses in Siberia are often built on stilts so this will not happen. Used with permission
The Aral Sea is becoming a desert because water is being diverted from rivers that feed it. The diverted water is being used to irrigate the cotton fields in Uzbekistan. The wind blows the sand, which is contaminated with fertilizers and pesticides, into the nearby villages, where it causes serious illnesses. The Sea is so polluted from run-off that the fish have died.
irrigation To irrigate is to supply (dry land) with water by means of ditches, pipes, or tubes. No copyright
divert (To divert is to turn aside from a course or direction.) Water is diverted from streams to irrigation canals in order to irrigate the cotton fields in the Aral Sea drainage basin. Irrigation Channel Used with permission
Other factors that influence the geography of Russia and Central Asia Many rivers flow northward into the Arctic Ocean. They are frozen most of the year. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world. It contains 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water supply. St. Petersburg is the “window to the West” and gives the Russians a port on the Baltic Sea.