A tundra is another ecosystem that is cold and dry. Tundra’s are oftentimes found in the northern part of the world such as in Alaska and other northern areas.
The temperatures of the tundra range from long, cold winters to short and cool summers.
There are two types of tundra’s, an Arctic Tundra, which means that it is far north along the Arctic Circle, and the Alpine Tundra, which is high in the mountains above the tree line.
Winter is the longest season that happens in the tundra and this can last for over 8 months.
When winter happens, there usually is snow and oftentimes, places do not get any sunshine.
During the winter, the temperatures are very cold, and they sometimes even get as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit.
People sometimes call a tundra, a frozen wasteland because during the winter months, plants and trees cannot grow and animals sometimes die because food is hard to find.
The tundra has a layer of ground that is almost always frozen. This is called a permafrost.
The permafrost is below the topsoil and it stops trees and other plants from growing because they cannot get their roots to go through the frozen soil.
In the summer, a tundra has sun for over 24 hours. The temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees and this causes much of the snow to melt.
During this time, plants sometimes grow, but most of them grow close to the ground.
The melting snow oftentimes forms ponds and other areas of water and this causes the animals, such as tundra birds to come out and enjoy the weather, even though most tundra birds travel to find places that are warmer in the winter, this is how they survive.
Plants in the Tundra
Shrubs, grasses, herbs and lichens grow in the tundra. The lichens for example, grow close to the ground and they provide food for the animals when it is winter.
Growing close to the ground protects the plants from the freezing cold winds and this helps them to survive.
Plants in the tundra have short roots because the roots cannot dig through the ice and when it is summer, the plants flower quickly.
Most of the plants in the tundra are perennials. A perennial plant comes back year after year with the same root.
This gives the plants time to grow in the summer and allows the plants to save the nutrients to last them through the winter.
Most of the plants in the tundra tend to have dark and hairy stems and leaves, which helps them to gather energy from the sun quicker and easier.
Animals in the Tundra
Animals in the tundra consist of wolves, birds, ducks, geese, swans, foxes, owls, oxen and more.
The animals come out more in the summer time than they do the winter because most of the birds migrate to warmer places when it is winter.
Insects lay eggs that hatch in the summer and some of the mammals go into a deep sleep, or hibernate, during the winter months to survive.
Some of the animals adapted to the winter and they grow thicker fur coats to keep them warm and some of their fur turns white so that they can blend in the snow and be safe from predators.
The Snowy Owl, for example, has a white coat and stays in the tundra all year long.
During the summer, many birds, insects and fish come out of hibernation and they make the tundra filled with animal life.
Facts About Tundra
- Many people live in the tundra biome, they are called Inuit people. Most of the Inuit people are from Alaska.
- Plants that grow in the tundra winter are sometimes called cushion plants, because they cushion themselves so they can survive the cold.
- Polar bears are part of the animal life that lives in the tundra. They have their babies in the summer.
- Tundra animals have small ears and small tails to help them keep the heat in.
- Tundra animals have large feet to help them walk in the snow.
- Lemmings are tundra animals that burrow in the snow to eat grasses and plants during the winter time.
- Tundra is a Finnish word that means “treeless plain” or “barren land.”
- The tundra is very dry and only gets around 10 inches of precipitation, mostly snow, per year.
What Did You Learn?
- What are some characteristics of a tundra? A tundra is cool with long winters and short summers, oftentimes covered in snow and frozen ice.
- What is the layer of ice that is below the top layer of soil? The permafrost is the layer of ice that is below the top layer and is always frozen.
- What type of tundra is located far north along the Arctic Circle? The Arctic tundra is located far north along the Arctic Circle.
- Where is the Alpine tundra located? The Alpine tundra is found high in the mountains above the tree lines.
- What is the weather of a tundra like? Dry and cold, a little warmer in the summer.
- Back to – Biology