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Tundra Overview

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The word Tundra means treeless plain, it is the coldest region in a biomass. It is known for its low temperatures, poor nutrients and short period of plant growth. It covers one fifth of the earth’s land. It’s located in the Arctic Circle,

In the picture above, tundra is the region that is highlighted in blue. Majority of the highlighted area is near the poles, this is because they do not get direct sunlight, causing the temperature to be very low. Tundra is the coldest, driest and frost biomes on Earth. There is barely any rainfall in tundra, the rainfall is less than ten inches a year. The length of summers is short, and winters are cold. The temperatures in winters can reach to -45.5°C. The temperature is so low that summer only lasts for 24 hours. The temperature in summer does not go above 10°C, sufficient to cause the ice on the ground to thaw, the ground is very soggy due to the thawed ice and rain. There is a low diversity of organisms that live in tundra. Plants that live on the permafrost soil adapt to the weather and resist the winds by being clustered and short in height. The growing season takes place for 60 days. These plants use the energy from the sun to photosynthesise, but automatically adapt themselves to low temperatures compared to plants in other biomes. There are various animal species that survive in such harsh conditions. Animals such as caribou, arctic hares, lemmings and polar bears. These polar bears need meat to survive, they feed on seals, walrus or even belugas. Animals that live in tundra are specially adapted to that climate, this is done through breeding and raising the offspring in the cold environment. They often change their hunting and eating patterns according to the seasons. The tundra has some of the lowest primary productivity of any ecosystems, due mainly to the cold and short growing season, and the infertile soils.

Decomposition, like productivity, is also very slow, and organic matter decays only slightly each year. Most litter becomes incorporated into the soil, and remains as undecayed matter. This limits nutrient availability, making nutrient shortages one characteristic of the tundra.

Because the permafrost layers never thaw out, the organic matter stored in them is effectively trapped forever

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