Encyclopedia of Lakes and Reservoirs

2012 Edition
| Editors: Lars Bengtsson, Reginald W. Herschy, Rhodes W. Fairbridge

Wetlands of the Canadian Arctic

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4410-6_229


The Canadian Arctic is an area north of the treeline. With an area of 2.7 million km2, it occupies about one-quarter of the total land area of Canada. Wetlands cover about 3–5% of the Arctic, mostly in the south. Despite their limited extent, they provide an important ecological niche for plants, migratory birds, and animals of the far North. Wetlands can be a sink for atmospheric and terrestrial contaminants; and persistently flooded and high groundwater level in wetlands with carbon-rich soils can give rise to methane production. Arctic wetlands also sequester carbon in the water column, their underlying substrate muds, and through long-term peat accumulation and storage. Drainage leads to the loss of wetlands and disturbance to the peatland can accelerate peat decomposition to release its stored carbon while the removal of peat as an insulator enhances permafrost degradation.

The Canadian Arctic

The Arctic has a harsh climate, with winters that span 9–10 months when...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography and Earth SciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyYork UniversityTorontoCanada