NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Ecosystems and Santa

 As Santa prepares for his upcoming journey in his sled, not only is he loaded with presents for all, but think about the various clothes he must have to pack to be prepared for the numerous and varied biomes he will cross.  What is a biome?  A biome is a large and distinct region the contains similar plants and animals because of the shared climate and dominant vegetation.  There are between 6 and 17 categories of biomes, scientists are still working on the details of categorizing Mother Nature.

According to NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), the official Santa Tracker for over 60 years, ( Santa will leave the North Pole along the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and head southwest to the South Pacific.  From there he traverses across New Zealand and Australia.  Heading north, he covers Japan and Asia.  He then dives south to navigate across Africa and Western Europe.  Then he will span Canada and Alaska before dropping into the continental United States and continuing south through Mexico, Central and South America. 

Covering the earth, Santa experiences the eight generally accepted biomes: tundra, taiga, deciduous forest, grassland, chaparral, desert, savanna, and tropical rainforest.  From frigid and frozen most, if not all, of the year (tundra) to hot and wet (tropical rainforest) and everything in-between.  Taiga are generally forested areas that remain cold and under ice and snow for more than six months of the year.  Deciduous forests are usually full of oak, beech, maple, ash, hazel and birch trees, with some evergreens.  Grasslands are characterized by being dominated by grasses in a semi-arid environment, with few trees.  The chaparral biome is usually vegetated by broad-leaved evergreen shrubs, bushes and small trees, often found in dense thickets.  The desert biome receives a large amount of solar radiation which means extreme temperature swings and vegetation that is adapted for strong winds and low precipitation.  Savannas are similar to grasslands, but closer to the equator, so more tropical. 

Imagine the variety in clothing Santa must have to don to remain comfortable in such diverse conditions!  He must have a closet built into his sleigh, and like us northeastern Nevadans, must be a lover of layers.  Thankfully, for our planning purposes, unless you hop in your car and leave Nevada, chances are you’ll remain in the desert biome and therefore can predict what is needed for comfort and potential survival.  As you head outdoors this holiday season, whether in your car to grandma’s home or on the trails on your off-highway vehicles or on foot, remember to plan ahead and be prepared.  This time of year carry plenty of extra clothes for layers, and blankets if you have room.  Bringing extra food and water is always a good idea.  Since the sun sets so early, having a flashlight on hand is also a good idea.

When the time comes, hop onto the NORAD Santa Tracker, bundle up, and head outside and enjoy our amazing night skies to see if you can catch a glimpse of Santa and the reindeer.  If you do see him, report back what he was wearing!  Get outside, it is good for humans (and Santa!) everywhere.



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