The Tundra the Coldest Places on Earth

The terrestrial biomes consist of biomes of vegetation. Biomes are a way to categorize the different types of ecological habitats around the world. These habitats are categorized by temperature, precipitation, and types of flora and fauna that grow in these areas. The tundra biome is the coldest of all biomes.

The tundra

The tundra biome is the coldest of all biomes with temperatures that average three to twelve degrees Celsius or 37 degrees to 54 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months and minus 34 degrees Celsius or minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months.

In the tundra’s wettest month the precipitation is about one inch. Poor drainage and lack of evaporation causes waterlogged areas such as bogs and ponds.

These bogs and ponds provide the moisture for plant life. There is an absence of trees due the the permafrost or permanently frozen condition of the soil, which causes small root growth.

There are two types of tundra: Alpine tundra and arctic tundra

Arctic tundra

The arctic tundra is characterized by all of the conditions mentioned above. Plants reproduce by budding or asexual reproduction. There are about 400 varieties of flowering plants and about 2000 species.

Herbivores of the arctic tundra are the caribou, arctic hare, musk ox, squirrels, voles, and lemmings. Predators or the carnivores are the arctic fox, snow owl, polar bear, and wolves. There are few if any reptiles or amphibians since they could not survive the extreme cold.

The growing season is 50 to 60 days. Locations for the arctic tundra are Antarctica, the North Pole; and parts of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and the US.

Alpine tundra

The alpine tundra is located in many different places around the world in the highest mountains where trees cannot grow.  The growing season is 180 days. Nighttime temperatures are below freezing. Plants are similar to arctic plants such as the tussock grasses, dwarf trees, and shrubs and heaths.

Animals of the alpine tundra are well-adapted to the ecology of their habitats. They consist of elk, sheep, goats, mammots, and pikas.  Birds are grouselike.

There is more sunlight in the alpine tundra than in the arctic tundra.


The regions of the tundra are the coldest places on Earth. Vegetation is minimal compared to other biomes. Trees do not grow there since there is no room for root growth due to the permafrost. Precipitation is low, but there are bogs and ponds that provide moisture to the plants that grow there.

Additional resource:

Miller, G. Tyler, Jr., Living in the Environment, Wadsworth Publishing

Company, US, 1998.