Alpine Tundra

By: Claire Doyle & Kristie L'ecuyer S4

What is an Alpine Tundra?

An alpine tundra does not tend to traverse large expanses of land like most other biomes. An alpine tundra can be found anywhere in the world at any coordinate because it is not specific to any region in particular, as it just depends on elevation. This particular biome is known as the "tallest life zone" due to its distinct plant life that can only sustain life at higher altitudes with certain temperatures and with certain air pressures.

The most famous example of an alpine tundra are the Swiss Alps in south-west Europe.

Location

A portion of the Alps mountain range located in Switzerland, a landlocked, mountainous country in Central Europe.
Separates Switzerland from France, Germany, Austria, and Italy.
Absolute: 46.6 degrees North, 8.6 degrees East
Relative: North of Italy, South of Germany, East of France, Within the Alps Mountain Range

Place

Physical Chracteristics: Switzerland's climate is generally temperate, with snowy winters and humid summers. There is significant variation in precipitation, in the forms of either rain or snow, is partially due to differences in elevation but is also related to the mixing of air masses from the Mediterranean Sea and northern Europe. Specific landforms in the Swiss Alps include glaciers, snowy-peaked mountain ranges, deep valleys, rivers, forests, and waterfalls. Although the high-elevation limits plant growth, deciduous trees, coniferous trees, moss, lichen, edelweiss, spruce trees, alpine pasque-flower, glacier buttercup, and the rusty-leaved alpenrose can all be found in the Swiss Alps. Animals found in this region included ibexes, marmots, red deers, foxes, mountain hares, chamois, various birds, lynxes, and bears.


Human Characteristics: The Swiss Alps are situated at the historic border between the Germanic linguistic region of northern Europe and the region of Romance languages to the south. Officially, the country has four national languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch. There is currently no established state religion and the Swiss are very tolerant of religious diversity. Some common religions include Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox.

Human-Environment Interaction

Tourism is a main factor in humans impact on the Swiss Alps. In particular, travel using cars contribute to its pollution. In addition, humans impact the natural land with construction, farming, industry, transport, and even the chopping of trees for firewood. Switzerland produces hydroelectricity as their main export. Due to the high precipitation, large range of elevations, and stored glacial waters provide an ideal environment for reservoirs to produce hydroelectricity. The Swiss Alps also cause many disasters such as avalanches, floods, and landslides.

Movement

Besides basic means of travel such as cars, trains, bikes, and walking trails, the Swiss Alps have mountain railways have been put in to aid tourists and residents in getting to the top of mountains and hills. Highways have been woven through the region as well as the smaller roads through villages and into towns. Since winter sports draw thousands of tourists a year, these forms of transportation are vital and widely popular. Snowshoeing and skiing are also popular, more traditional way of getting from one place to another in the winter. The Swiss Alps have an average of about 10,000,000 tourists each year who go for winter sports, sightseeing, and many other reasons.

Region

This zone is located in the Alps Mountain Range, Alpine Tundra, Switzerland, Central Europe, and Europe.

Alpine tundras have a more moderate climate that can vary with altitude. For example, during the summer months, the temperature can go below 0 degrees on mountain summits, and can go steady at 80 degrees fahrenheit in the valleys and plains below. The tundra is a very cold and dry biome for the most part, and since the origin of the word "tundra" comes from the Finnish word "tuntuiri", meaning tree-less plain, it is safe to conclude that the alpines tundra is a rough place for plants and trees to flourish. The growing seasons are short, and they mostly farm animals, not crops, in the farms in the region. A few plants that are durable enough to survive here round year are the Heath Plant, Lichen, and Dwarfed Shrubs.

Bibliography


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