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My basic idea is a polar region in a planet that, for whatever* reason, has a obscene amount of geothermic activity. The question is, will this be enough to create a micro-climate large enough to create a biome where would otherwise be permafrost? With plant growth (preferably tree) and animals that don't rely on the sea for food?

I was thinking in maybe create wetlands out of geothermal springs, or a warm soil due to magma channels nearby, but I am more than willing to settle for whatever may actually work.

*: My though was to make a very thin and cracked lithosphere in the poles, and perhaps add a tectonic drift for good measure.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is evidence that dinosaurs lived year round up in the arctic. The supposition is that they lived on conifer vegetation. But our planet was warm enough to support life up there. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Nov 6, 2021 at 14:47

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Iceland is the closest example to what you describe that we have on our planet, and it's somehow close to what you have in mind.

Phytogeographically, Iceland belongs to the Arctic province of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. Plantlife consists mainly of grassland, which is regularly grazed by livestock. The most common tree native to Iceland is the northern birch (Betula pubescens), which formerly formed forests over much of Iceland, along with aspens (Populus tremula), rowans (Sorbus aucuparia), common junipers (Juniperus communis), and other smaller trees, mainly willows.

When the island was first settled, it was extensively forested, with around 30% of the land covered in trees. In the late 12th century, Ari the Wise described it in the Íslendingabók as "forested from mountain to sea shore". Permanent human settlement greatly disturbed the isolated ecosystem of thin, volcanic soils and limited species diversity. The forests were heavily exploited over the centuries for firewood and timber. Deforestation, climatic deterioration during the Little Ice Age, and overgrazing by sheep imported by settlers caused a loss of critical topsoil due to erosion. Today, many farms have been abandoned. Three-quarters of Iceland's 100,000 square kilometres (39,000 sq mi) is affected by soil erosion; 18,000 km2 (6,900 sq mi) is affected to a degree serious enough to make the land useless.

The only native land mammal when humans arrived was the Arctic fox, which came to the island at the end of the ice age, walking over the frozen sea. On rare occasions, bats have been carried to the island with the winds, but they are not able to breed there. No native or free-living reptiles or amphibians are on the island.

Note that one of the obstacles in polar regions for live to thrive is the prolonged lack of light in winter. Plants and the consequent food chain can adapt to a certain extent, of course, but that will limit their growth rate and diversity.

Last but not least, secondary volcanism works better for this than primary, because it can better dilute and spread the heat. The "Goldilock zone", where it's not too hot nor too cold around a lava flow is very thin and mutable.

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