Boreal

Interior Alaska includes lichen-rich open woodlands (taiga), peatland bogs, and the western edge of the continent’s great northern coniferous forest, yet winter still rules the Boreal Division.  The dominant spruce and fir remain small due to nutrient-scarce soils and short summers. Limited accessibility has kept many of these ecosystems intact, yet increased warming and drying—the leading edge of climate change—threatens the Boreal's productive bird populations and vast caribou migrations.

Location
Interior of Alaska stretching across the majority of sub-polar Canada, extending east to the north Atlantic coast.. 

Climate
A bit milder than the Arctic Division but harsher than the mild and rainy climates of the North Pacific Maritime. Permafrost is most common on north-facing slopes. Temperatures average -1.8ºC,(29ºF) with annual rainfall around 323mm, or 13 inches.         

Features
Generally rolling to flat plains with Boreal forests of black spruce and white spruce (as well as paper birch and aspen) -- with and without permafrost.  Extensive wildfires have burned these forests across vast areas, often following insect outbreaks that weaken and kill trees. Northern portions of this division feature collapsed permafrost that forms wet depressions, or thermokarst . Extensive peatlands are also common on flat, poorly drained conditions, and along slopes with permafrost.  Large floodplains form at lower reaches of glaciers and extend downstream forming large deltas, such as Alaska's Yukon Delta.

History and Trends
This area once held -- and smashed -- the gold mining dreams of a generation. Today, it is the bush, featuring largely roadless landscapes with limited accessibility, except through the air.  Fairbanks, Alaska is the primary population center in the US portion. 

Boreal Ecoregions

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