What is Tundra Biome?
A biome is a large ecosystem where plants, animals, insects, and people live in a certain type of climate. The tundra is a region in continents of Asia, Europe and North America where growth of trees does not happen due to relatively freezing temperature. While there are many different areas in the world that are referred to as “the tundra,” there is only one tundra in the world.
The tundra biome is an ecosystem located at the North Pole. This biome surrounds the Arctic Circle and is the coldest biome of all on earth. The average winter temperature is well below -34 degrees Celsius and the summer range is between 3 and 12 degrees Celsius, but it only warms up for two months of every year. Despite the frigid temperatures, the tundra biome is thriving with life of all kinds but is least inhabited biome in the world by humans.
Below are 20 Interesting Facts About Tundra Biome
Fact 1: The word tundra comes from the Finnish word for treeless land. “Tunturia” accurately describes the barren appearance of the area. Despite its lack of trees, there is much plant, animal and insect life to be found here.
Fact 2: While the tundra biome does have an animal population, it is not consistent throughout the year. Some of the animals do stay year round, but they may hibernate through most of the winter months – waking periodically for food or staying in hibernation 10 months out of the year. Other populations will migrate out of the biome during winter and then return during the brief summer months.
Fact 3: Unlike many of the organisms in other biomes, the ones in the tundra derive most of their nutrition from the decaying matter around them. The dead organic forms that are in the tundra after its brief growing season can provide food for the entire long winter.
Fact 4: The area of the tundra biome, while centered on the North Pole does cover parts of Alaska and Northern Canada. These are the few areas of the tundra that are inhabited. Most of the area has never been explored, except by researchers, as the climate is considered too harsh to survive in without expensive preparations.
Fact 5: The tundra lacks trees and the types of vegetation that process and neutralize carbon dioxide so it keeps most of the carbon dioxide that it produces. This has led to it being considered a “carbon dioxide sink.” In most biomes, the carbon dioxide given off by decaying material is then transformed by the nitrogen processes of green spaces.
Fact 6: Down deep beneath the snow and ice there is soil on the tundra, it’s just too frozen to allow anything but shallow rooted plants to grow. This is why there is a lack of trees on the tundra. There is not enough of a thaw to allow anything with a deep root system to take hold and survive the coming winter months.
Fact 7: On the frozen, treeless tundra you may be surprised to discover that there are over 400 different kinds of flowers that grow there. This is a spectacular amount, especially when you consider that it only supports 48 types of animals – half of whom migrate to warmer climates for most of the year.
Fact 8: The tundra extends to cover almost 20-percent of all the land on Earth. It also includes Antarctica because the climate there is considered identical to its Northern tundra cousin.
Fact 9: While you may think that the Sahara is the driest place on earth, that status belongs to the tundra. Despite all that snow and ice, less than 10 inches of rain fall a year, making it drier than anywhere else.
Fact 10: If you think 2 months of summer is too short, think again. Each of those summer days has sunlight for 24 hours. In the winter there is less than 6 hours of daylight per day.
Fact 11: Polar bears are the largest mammal that lives on the tundra year round. They pile on fat from meats during the summer and this helps to insulate their bodies from the cold and to allow them to survive.
Fact 12: The plants that grow on the tundra cluster together as a way to protect themselves from being uprooted by the harsh winds that blow there.
Fact 13: The oil drilling and oil exploration that is occurring in the tundra is threatening the ecological balance of this unique biome.
Fact 14: Tundra biome is the least inhabited biome in the world by the humans. Yet, it is more susceptible to change by pollution from humans.
Fact 15: The tundra has extremely cold temperatures. During winters, the temperature goes down below -34° C whereas during summers, which last about 2 months, the average range of temperature is between 3° to 12° C.
Fact 16: The biggest threat to the ecosystem is that about one third of the world’s soil bound carbon is found in these regions. During summers when permafrost melts, this carbon gets released into the atmosphere, thus adding to the ‘Greenhouse Effect‘.
Fact 17: Arctic Tundra, Alpine Tundra and Antarctic Tundra are 3 different types of Tundra. While Arctic Tundra is located within Arctic circle, Alpine Tundra is found above the tree level in high mountain ranges.
Fact 18: The Arctic Tundra is located in Northern Hemisphere and the ecosystem is low in biodiversity. It is situated near the North Pole and the soil in the area is called ‘permafrost’ which means permanently frozen soil.
Fact 19: The Alpine Tundra is situates in Mountainous region of the world. Alpine vegetation is restricted to grasses and shrubs because of harsh winters.
Fact 20: The Antarctic Tundra is another type of tundra region. It is situated in south pole. The temperature is below freezing level and one can find about 300 varieties of lichens, 700 varieties of aquatic algae, and about 100 varieties of mosses.
Image credit: flickr
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