Great Canadian Parks / Yukon Territory

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The Parks / Yukon Territory / Ivvavik National Park



 


 

Over 90 % of the park is dominated by the British Mountains which rise to 1800 metres, the only non-glaciated mountain range in Canada and home to the country's most northern populations of moose and Dall's sheep. The Malcolm, Firth and Babbage Rivers carve their way through these mountains, to flow across 2400 square kilometres of coastal plain, emptying into the Beaufort Sea. Aufies, ever-thickening sheets of ice formed by percolating springs, freeze in layers 2 - 5 metres thick over existing river ice, often breaking away to become navigational hazards. Snow and ice arrive by early October and stay for eight long months. In summer, offshore ice floes blow in creating fog banks, rocks are squeezed to the surface, thawed soil slides downhill on top of permafrost and wedges of underground ice melt in the sun causing mudslides along the riverbank. Everywhere the mountains, v-shaped valleys, isolated conical hills and sideslope rock outcrops called ŠtorsĘ show the effects of uninterrupted water, wind, and frost erosion.

 



The park lies within the Beringia Refugium, an unglaciated area that extended between North America and Siberia providing shelter for diverse vegetation that in turn sustained an exceptional wildlife habitat. Three distinct regions exist: where permafrost is lower, the soil on sunny slopes supports delicate plants, avens and lichens, and some stunted trees and bushes often lush with blueberries, cranberries and cloudberries; where the climate is most affected by the Beaufort Sea, only sedges and arctic tundra can survive; in southern valleys, Canada's most northern tongue of boreal forest - white spruce and balsam - meet the tundra at a transitional point called the taiga. In fall, the gray, pink, and coppery shale on the ridges blend with the greens, yellows and reds of tundra lupine and fireweed, while on the stony hillsides the scarlet and maroon of berry bushes blaze against the orange and brown lichen.


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