Location and Description of the Tundra Biome

The Tundra biome can be divided into arctic and alpine. As the names suggest, the arctic tundra is located in the northern hemisphere around the North Pole, while the alpine tundra is located at the top of very tall mountains, such as Mount Everest. Year round cold temperatures characterize the tundra, with winter weather lasting longer than that of summer weather. Due to the cold it is hard for plants to grow and therefore vegetation is scarce, with only simple vegetation structures which are present. Also, the plants which form are quite small because their roots get damaged by the cold and the frost during the winter which slows and even at times prevents the plants from growing further.

The arctic tundra which is the coldest of all biomes includes such places as Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Europe and also parts of Asia. During the winter the average temperature is –34o C, while in the summer it reaches on average only between 3-12o C. Many regions on the tundra are covered in permafrost which is a layer of frost that exists year round. In this biome there is 1,700 various kinds of plant life, such as grass, shrubs, foliose lichen and many different types of flowers.

The alpine tundra which is located on tall mountains is characterized with almost the same climate and vegetation as the arctic tundra. The climate is however a little warmer and the growing season is slightly longer. Inhabitants include butterflies, grasshoppers, sheep, elk and other animals.

Many animals which live in the tundra during the summer migrate to warmer climates during the winter in order to stay alive. Ravens, falcons, and loons are only a few examples of birds which migrate to stay alive. Other animals, such as the brown bear hibernate during the winter which is a process which involves eating an excessive amount during the summer. This excessive amount of food which is taken in is then stored as fat in the body and helps to keep the bear warm. Slowly the body burns off the fat as energy which keeps it alive. Other animals which reside in the tundra year round include the musk ox and the arctic wolf. Like the bears the musk ox adapts instead of migrating, by growing a second layer of fur to keep it warm. There are also insects which live in the biome such as mosquitoes, bumble bees, grasshoppers, and flies.