By now we hope you're enjoying all the cozy Winter artwork we made for you!
A lot of research and thought went into which species we featured in this box, but all live in the Arctic tundra biome. What follows is some info that factored into our choices for which species we featured—the "behind the scenes", if you will—as well as some places to start, should you wish to learn further.
species name: why we selected it for this box
- caribou (Rangifer tarandus): population endangered
- narwhal (Monodon monoceros): population near threatened
- Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus): population successfully recovering after intense conservation effort
- Arctic cod (Arctogadus glacialis): a key species for the Arctic food chain
- blue mussel (Mytilus edulis): a bellwether species, excellent for diagnosing the health of a biome
- Kittlitz’s murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris): population near threatened
- Labrador tea
- polar willow (Salix polaris)
- cottongrass (Eriophorum)
- arctic bell-heather (Cassiope tetragona)
- 'British Soldiers' lichen (Cladonia cristatella)
- reindeer lichen (Cladonia rangiferina)
All the runes tucked into the artwork are from the Younger Fuþark (Futhark); that is, the runes of the Viking Age. Northern Scandanavia is part of the Arctic biome (along with areas of Greenland, Alaska, Northern Canada, Northern Siberia, and Russia).
Our ice and fire runes are:
- The rune in the center of the diamonds, ᚼ, the one that looks (for some reason!) like a proto-snowflake, is called "hagall", which means "hail".
- The rune in the center of the sun, ᛋ, is called "sól", which means—you guessed it—"sun".
other runes used are:
- ᛚ —lögr ("sea")
- ᛁ —ísa/íss ("ice")
- ᚢ —úr ("iron"/"rain")
Climate change is having an outsize effect on the Arctic region. Below, find a few of the articles we consulted in choosing the organisms we featured in this box.
• General intro to the biodiversity in the region:
Plants of the Arctic and Antarctic
• An article about lichens in general, but also their place within an ecosystem:
A Liking for Lichens
• The effects of climate change on various species, such as ice-dependent marine mammals, Arctic whales, ocean plankton, seabirds, and terrestrial mammals:
"EXTINCTION. It’s Not Just for Polar Bears." A Center for Biological Diversity and Care for the Wild International Report
• Declining sea ice due to the climate crisis has opened up shipping lanes to more traffic…which results in more accidents. Scientists are racing to study as much as they can, before oil spills ruin things. Discusses blue mussels as a diagnostic species:
The Race to Study Arctic Waters
• "When exposed to even low levels of certain pollutants, particularly sensitive species will decline or die, making nonvascular community composition or richness … a good indicator of ecosystem health.":
Moving beyond the Minimum: The addition of nonvascular plant inventories to vegetation research in Alaska’s national parks.
• Impacts of the Changing Ocean-Sea Ice System on the Key Forage Fish Arctic Cod (Boreogadus Saida) and Subsistence Fisheries in the Western Canadian Arctic—Evaluating Linked Climate, Ecosystem and Economic (CEE) Models
• "Scientists often view seabirds as indicator species to track changes in the marine environment." Seabirds, such as the Kittlitz’s Murrelet:
Sea Change in the High North: Scientists track seabirds in Alaska’s changing seascape
• "Tips for braving the pandemic when it’s also very cold, from an Arctic researcher." Depending on where you live, this might be nice info to have:
Staying safe this winter means a lot of time outside. Here’s how to stay warm.
Given recent events, we thought it might be a good thing to offer some resources on refuting the ahistorical use of medievalism—and Vikings in particular—by White Supremacists. It's a load of rank nonsense, and if we want to do things like include runes in artwork and enjoy aspects of actual history, it's down to us to push back.