Tundra

Andrew Kristanto

Tundra

The tundra is the coldest and driest biome and it covers about one-fifth of the land on earth. It is located in the arctic circle, which surrounds the north pole. Abiotic factors that affect the tundra include strong winds, temperature, rainfall, and permafrost

Climate

The average temperature in the tundra is around -8 degrees Celsius. The average temperature in the winter is -34 degrees Celsius, and in the summer, it is 3-12 degrees Celsius. The average rainfall is about 10 inches per year and most of it is from melting snow. There are 2 seasons, a long winter and a short summer. The winters last around 8 months and the nights can last for weeks. The summers last around 6-10 weeks and the days can last for 24 hours.


Plant Life

There are about 1,700 species of plant life in the tundra. These plants grow only during the growing season, which last up to 60 days, with very little rain fall. Examples of plants that live in the tundra include arctic moss, terrestrial algae, cotton grass, pasque flower, and crustose lichen. These plants have certain ways to adapt to the climate. They are all short and grouped together to protect each other from strong winds and low temperature. They have hairy stems and dark leaves to help absorb energy from the sun. In order to survive, these plants also use as little energy as possible. During the winter, these plants stay dorment, inactive, waiting for the next growing season.

Animals

Tundra animals have special characteristics in order to survive the extreme conditions that are in the tundra, animals such as polar bears, arctic foxes, snowshoe rabbits, caribous, and lemmings. In order to prevent their skin from getting wet and freezing, most animals have thick fur covering their skin. Some animals dig holes in the snow to keep warm or hibernate during the winter. Some animals also change fur during the winter to blend into the snow in order to hide from predators.
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Tundra Threats

There are several threats to the tundra and the species living in it. Global warming can be one of the largest threats to the biome. Many scientists believe global warming can be the cause of the destruction of the biome. Threats that increase habitat loss include mining and oil drilling and people moving north. The polar bear and peary caribou are both endangered species in the tundra. The tundra plays a large role in regulating temperature on Earth. The air rising from the equator is cooled in the tundra then it falls back to the equator. This is the cause of air currents and weather.

Interesting Facts

  • The word "tundra" means the land of no trees.
  • The tundra is believed to be the youngest biome that was formed about 10,000 years ago.
  • 3/4 of the tundra is permafrost.