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> not what I expected
U Rich
post Aug 14 2006, 02:56 AM
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When you originally described your trip, I expected you would be quite far North, but I looked on a map and found quite the opposite, you are pretty far to the south. Why was this area selected?
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Misty_Nikula_Ohlsen
post Sep 3 2006, 08:57 AM
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This area was selected for several reasons. First, Dr. Ben Fitzhugh has done research in the Aleutian Islands which is part of an area called Beringia. Beringia is the area that connects the Siberian side of the Bering Sea and the Alaskan side and is thought to have been a pathway in the past for people, plants and animals to cross between both continents - this is the "Bering land bridge" that you may have heard about before. Kamchatka peninsula, being connected to the Bering Sea and Siberia is a part of pathway. If you continue looking at how people and animals could get to this area, the Kuril Islands conveniently form a link from temperate climate Japan to sub-arctic climate Kamchatka and eventually the arctic climate Beringia. So they can possibly be used as a place to find out how and when people, animals and plants, moved from temperate climates to arctic climates. Second, the Sea of Okhotsk is a subarctic sea. It has pack ice in the winter that circulates from the north, along Sakhalin Island southward to the southern Kuril Islands of Iturup and Kunashir. There is direct evidence of subarctic and even arctic animals within the Kuril Islands - fur seals, walrus, etc. And even though the islands do not have a permafrost, the weather conditions in the winter are severe enough to prevent trees from growing in most places except for the very largest islands and there are lots of areas of tundra-dominated vegetation. We have seen snow at sea level in sun-sheltered areas of Shiashkotan and Onekotan so far - in August! So on the whole, the Kuril Islands are a link to understanding how and when people and animals may have moved into and through the Beringia area between Asia and North America and their climate is very much like the subarctic and in some rare places, even the arctic. In the past, if the climate was a little bit colder than now, the Kuril Islands may have even been MORE arctic-like. These are some of the things that the Kuril Island Biocomplexity Project is trying to understand.
Mrs. N-O
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