Published and unpublished information on Arctic soils, soil-forming factors and possible transformations of the soil cover due to global change are reviewed. In high latitudes the soil distribution is strongly controlled by geogenic factors (relief and substrates). Locally they transform the Arctic macroclimate, which is principally humid, to produce arid phenomena in the soil landscapes. All the soil processes from podzolization to salinization can be qualitatively distinguished in every region of the Arctic. Quantitatively, the effect of these soil-forming processes decreases with increasing latitude. A new zonal division of Arctic soils is proposed, comprising (1) High Arctic barren (tundra), (2) Mid Arctic tundra and (3) Low Arctic and Subarctic tundra. In addition to climate warming, important consequences of global change are soil pollution and the physical disturbance of the Arctic soil cover. All the countries of the northern hemisphere are contributing to Arctic soil pollution. Winter warming associated with climate change could cause an intensification of cryoturbation in the continental part of Siberia and lead to the more active fossilization of soil carbon and the increased importance of the cryopedosphere as a carbon sink. Copyright (C) 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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