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A Geography of the Soviet Union by John C. Dewdney and W. B. Fisher (Auth.)

By John C. Dewdney and W. B. Fisher (Auth.)

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E a s t of t h e Yenisey, w h e r e t h e l a n d is h i g h e r a n d p r e c i p i t a t i o n less h e a v y , these c o n d i t i o n s a r e g e n e r a l l y l i m i t e d to river valleys. T h e c h a r a c t e r of t a i g a v e g e t a t i o n varies a p p r e c i a b l y from o n e p a r t of t h e z o n e to a n o t h e r . I n t h e E u r o p e a n section, s p r u c e a n d p i n e a r e d o m i n a n t b u t b i r c h is also w i d e s p r e a d . I n t h e W e s t S i b e r i a n L o w l a n d , p i n e a n d l a r c h a r e t h e m a i n species over large a r e a s b u t b i r c h a g a i n o c c u r s widely, p a r t i c u l a r l y in t h e Yenisey valley, a n d rises to d o m i n a n c e a l o n g t h e s o u t h e r n fringe, w h e r e it forms a n i n t e r m e d i a t e b e l t b e t w e e n t h e t a i g a a n d t h e w o o d e d s t e p p e (see b e l o w ) .

Permafrost is a m a j o r obstacle to t h e d e v e l o p m e n t of m u c h of S i b e r i a . M i n i n g , t r a n s p o r t d e v e l o p m e n t a n d a n y form of b u i l d i n g works h a v e to a d o p t special t e c h n i q u e s w h i c h a d d a p p r e c i a b l y to t h e cost of c o n s t r u c t i o n . I t s h o u l d b e n o t e d t h a t t u n d r a c o n d i t i o n s of c l i m a t e , soil a n d v e g e t a t i o n o c c u r on m a n y h i g h m o u n t a i n a r e a s of S i b e r i a outside t h e m a i n t u n d r a z o n e .

T h i s a r r a n g e m e n t is e x t r e m e l y i m p o r t a n t in t h e effect it h a s on c l i m a t i c c o n d i t i o n s . 17 18 A Geography of the Soviet Union D i s t a n c e f r o m t h e Sea T h e vast size of t h e Soviet U n i o n ensures t h a t s o m e 75 p e r c e n t of its t e r r i t o r y is m o r e t h a n 400 k m from t h e sea, this d i s t a n c e r e a c h i n g a m a x i m u m of n e a r l y 2500 k m in p a r t s of s o u t h e r n S i b e r i a . T h e longest coastline is t h a t of t h e A r c t i c O c e a n , frozen for m o r e t h a n h a l f t h e y e a r , while t h e Pacific shore is w a s h e d b y cold c u r r e n t s a n d s e p a r a t e d from t h e i n t e r i o r b y h i g h m o u n t a i n r a n g e s .

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