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From Pole to Pole 2 energy on the sun

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Midsummer on the tundra and the sun does not set. At these latitudes the sun's rays are glancing and not enough of their energy reaches the ground to enable trees to grow. You'll need to travel 500 miles south from here before that is possible. These stunted shrubs mark the tree line - the beginning of the boreal forest - the taiga. The needle-shaped leaves of the conifers are virtually inedible so this forest supports very little animal life. It's a silent place where the snow is unmarked by footprints. In the Arctic winter snow forms a continuous blanket across the land. But as spring creeps up from the south the taiga is unveiled. This vast forest circling the globe contains a third of all the trees on Earth and produces so much oxygen it changes the composition of the atmosphere. As we travel south so the sun's influence grows stronger and at 50 degrees of latitude a radical transformation begins. Summers here are long enough for broadleaf trees to replace conifers. Broadleaves are much easier to eat and digest so now animals can collect their share of the energy that has come from the sun. Its summer and these forests are bustling with life. But the good times will not last. Broad leaves must be shed in winter for their damage by frost. As they disappear, so the land becomes barren with little for animals to eat. The inhabitants must migrate, hibernate, or face months of near starvation. The Amur leopard - the rarest cat in the world. Here, in the deciduous forests of eastern Russia the winter makes hunting very difficult. Pray animals are scarce, and there's no concealing vegetation. The cub is a year old and still dependent on its mother. Deer are frequent casualties of the harsh winter and these leopards are not above scavenging from a corpse. African leopards could never survive here, but the Russian cats have thick fur to shield them from the cold. There are only forty Amur leopards left in the wild and that number is falling. Like so many creatures, the cats have been pushed to the very edge of extinction by hunting and the destruction of their habitat. The Amur leopard symbolizes the fragility of our natural heritage. The future of an entire species hangs on survival of a tiny number of mothers like this one. All animals, rare or common, ultimately depend for their energy on the sun.





From Pole to Pole part 2 pictures


 
 

 
 

 
Planet Earth From Pole to Pole
Planet Earth From Pole to Pole
  2 energy on the sun
2 energy on the sun
  3 across the continents
3 across the continents
  4 into a fertile paradise
4 into a fertile paradise