wildflowers
© Sergey Loiko
The photographed area is 70th parallel north - with a distance to North Pole of only 1043 miles - where Russia has its northernmost residential settlements of Western Siberia.
'Blooming' might be the last word to associate with the Arctic, yet pictures below show meadows bursting with life as brightly-coloured flowers blossom in lush green grass.

And while vegetation in khasyreis, basins of drained Arctic lakes, is less of a surprise, researchers discovered 'bursts of life' next to a residential settlement where permafrost ice veins were broken when people dug sand pits.

The photographed area is 70th parallel north - with a distance to North Pole of only 1043 miles - where Russia has its northernmost residential settlements of Western Siberia.

arctic wildflowers
© Sergey Loiko
70th Parallel
There, in bleak Arctic tundra summer-2019 expedition organised by Tomsk State University found oases of rich vegetation formed in places of actively thawing permafrost.

As researchers explained, initially ice veins in permafrost were broken when people dug sand pits.

Over time disturbed permafrost thawed and enriched soil with minerals from its deep frozen layers. As soil above permafrost continued to move, broken cover of moss and lichen also subsided, preparing space for seeds of herbs and cereals.

Warm summers sped up seeds germination, so that when Russian researchers arrived they saw carpets of herbs and flowers, with daisies, dandelions, polar poppies, horsetail, several types of wormwood, cereals and even willow growing in Arctic 'oases'.
arctic wildflowers
© Sergey Loiko
arctic wildflowers
© Sergey Loiko
It all came as a surprise as the expedition travelled to the Yamal peninsula with a different aim - to study dried-up basins of local lakes, or 'Khasyreys' - and didn't expect to see signs of such active vegetation elsewhere.

'Khasyreis usually form over quite a long time, in decades actually', said Sergey Loiko, senior researcher at laboratory for biogeochemical and remote methods of monitoring the environment at Tomsk State University (TSU).

Nowadays as Tomsk expedition confirmed, Khasyreys take just weeks to form.
arctic wildflowers
© Sergey Loiko
In summer 2016 which was quite hot, one lake drained entirely in less than a month through gaps in thawing permafrost. By the time Tomsk expedition arrived to the lake its bed was covered with herbs and cereals.

Russian researchers concluded that Khasyreis were forming much faster during the past 30 years, doubling the number of such landscapes in Arcric tundra and showing there is tendency for the Arctic to become warmer and greener.

While it was surprising to discover oases of lush vegetation so high up in the Arctic, researchers believe this is the smallest of the issues. Potential threat to the infrastructure is more worrying.

'Local thermokarst is not as worrying as it might seem as Arctic plants formed in the Pleistocene under the influence of constant moderate disturbances. The local flora is well adapted to it. Permafrost thawing is undesirable because of potential threat to infrastructure, because of potential damage it might cause to roads', Sergey Loiko explained.

In the future, changes and expansion of the Arctic flora might lead to appearance of a bigger variety of fauna and bring over animals that have never populated this area.
Yamal
© Sergey Loiko
Tomsk State University's expedition pictured during summer 2019 expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.
arctic wildflowers