Arctic Tundra Biome


Did you know that the tundra is the coldest biome in the world? In fact, it has one of the harshest, most extreme weather conditions on Earth! However, many plants and animals call this frigid place their home.


The arctic tundra biome is found in the Northern Hemisphere in northern parts of North America, Asia, and Europe around the Arctic Circle, specifically, northern Canada, northern Russia, Scandinavia, Greenland, and Alaska.


Two words that describe the climate of tundras are "cold" and "dry". This biome receives only 6-10 inches (152.4-254 mm) of precipitation annually. However, with the cold temperatures, it takes awhile for the precipitation to evaporate. Wind speeds of 50-100 mph (80-160 kmh) blow constantly. Winters last most of the year with an average temperature of -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius). During that time period, the sun rarely rises and the winds dry the air. On the other hand, summers last about 6-10 short weeks. Temperatures climb up to 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2-10 degrees Celsius) and the sun shines nearly all day.



To survive in this extremely cold biome, most animals have a thick, dense coat of fur/feathers to keep themselves warm. They have small ears to minimize heat loss and fur/feathers on their feet to walk on the cold ground. A lot of tundra animals are white to camouflage in with the patches of snow.



Plants in the tundra biome grow very low near the ground to stay out of the strong winds. Because of the short summers, plants store a lot of nutrients when they are not growing so that they can grow back quickly during the 6-10 week summer time span. Some plants, like the bearberry, have leathery leaves with fine, silky hairs on them to keep it warm.


  • The most important part of the tundra biome is the permafrost. Permafrost is the layer of soil underneath the surface that stays permanently frozen for most of the year. The entire tundra biome sits on a layer of permafrost.
  • The tundra biome is the youngest of all biomes.
  • "Tundra" comes from the Finnish word "tunturia", meaning "treeless plain". This is very accurate, as there are no trees in the tundra.
  • Despite the permafrost, there are over 400 types of flowers there.

Human Impact

Global warming and oil industries have negatively impacted the tundra. The tundra is a fragile biome. Melting of the permafrost could change the land and decrease the amount of species that can live there. Oil/gas exploration and the pipelines physically interfere with the habitat. The construction of roads puts heat and pressure on the permafrost, causing it to melt. Potential oil spills can kill many species of animals and hurt the ecosystem. Efforts have been made to save this ecosystem, like limiting tourism and establishing protected areas where humans cannot visit.