Home to the arctic fox, the polar bear, and the snowy owl, the tundra is the coldest of all the biomes. Found mostly near Arctic coasts, these lands are harsh to live in, but they offer breathtaking views of a virtually untouched part of the world.
For those looking to learn some more terrific tundra insight, we have some surprisingly fun facts about the tundra that will have you saying 'say it ain't snow!'
Tundra Biome Location and General Information
Studying ecology can help people can better understand the various biomes of the world and how the plant and animal life of these ecosystems survive in their sometimes harsh conditions. The tundra is vastly unpopulated, but it has an impact on every person's life in this world! Here are some basic tundra facts to get you started:
- Tundras cover about 20% of Earth's land.
- Tundra means "treeless plain" in Finnish.
- There are two types of tundras: alpine and arctic.
- Alpine tundras can be found on mountaintops. These have snow-covered ground.
- Arctic tundras are located around the North Pole and have a thick, frozen subsurface layer of soil called permafrost.
- The bottom layer of permafrost, or moisture that has sunk into the ground, stays frozen all the time.
- The permafrost can extend nearly 1,500 feet under the surface of the earth.
- North America, Europe, and Asia are the continents that hold most of the world's tundras.
According to National Geographic, "a biome is a large area characterized by its vegetation, soil, climate, and wildlife. There are five major types of biomes: aquatic, grassland, forest, desert, and tundra."
Tundra Climate Facts
The weather conditions in tundras feature lots of snow and extremely cold temperatures, with just a hint of sunshine for a small part of the year. Here are some stats on the tundra biome climate:
- Tundras get an average of six to ten inches of rain each year.
- Tundra summer can be as short as six weeks long.
- In the summer, daytime lasts for an entire 24 hours each day.
- The time between seasons in the tundra is so short that they really don't have a fall or spring.
- The highest summer temperatures typically reach about 45 to 50 degrees Farenheit, but they can get into the low 60s.
- Temperatures can go as low as negative 40 degrees Farenheit in winter.
- Although the temperatures are rough, the land is actually very sensitive and doesn't recover quickly from damage.
Tundra Biome Animal Life
Animals that live in the tundra biome have to adapt to wildly changing seasons and extreme cold to survive. Here are some fun facts about the tundra wildlife:
- Polar bears are the biggest animals living in the tundra.
- Many tundra animals hibernate during the long winters to conserve energy.
- Most birds living in the tundra are migratory, and only travel there for part of the year.
- There are almost no reptiles or amphibians in tundras.
- Chinchillas can live at elevations of 14,000 feet and are on the endangered species list.
- The kea is the only parrot living in a tundra.
- The elusive narwhal, otherwise known as the unicorn of the sea, calls the waters of the tundra biome its home.
Plant Life in the Tundra Biome
Although tundras are known for their trees compared to other biomes, there are still many plants growing in these ecosystems. Here are some of the top tundra vegetation facts:
- The tundra growing season only lasts two months.
- Most tundra plants are short and grow in groups to protect them from harsh winds.
- No tundra plants have deep root systems. This is due to the permafrost layer.
- Thriving plants include mosses, lichens, and small shrubs.
- Flowers and berries can also be found in the Tundra biome.
- Most plants in the tundra are perennials, which means they come back every year.
- Many tundra plants have hairs, called trichomes, that help them to trap in the heat.
- Although the landscape is tough, there are more than 1,700 different plants growing throughout tundras.
Fun & Interesting Tundra Facts
Now that you know some simple stats about the tundra biome, here are some unique tundra facts that might surprise you:
- Since the tundra is dark 24 hours a day in the winter months, reindeer have adapted to ensure they can see where they are going.
- Santa's famous helpers have gold eyes in the summer, but they turn blue in the winter to help them capture more light.
- While you wouldn't expect insects to live in such cold conditions, the arctic bumblebee calls the tundra home.
- The Inuit people call the tundra their home as well. Most live near the coastlines and they depend on the earth to survive.
- Inuit means "people" in Inuktitut. The term "eskimo" is considered a slur and should not be used to describe these groups of people.
- Some of the best spots in the world to see the Northern and Southern lights are tundras.
- Only Antarctica's islands are considered tundras. The main continent is considered a desert.
- Plants with wacky names include reindeer moss, cloudberry, and liverworts.
Tundra Conservation Facts
Climate change and humans are two of the biggest threats to the tundra ecosystem. Here are some interesting facts about ho global warming is changing these ecosystems:
- Tire tracks and footprints left behind on the ground can stay visible for decades.
- Global warming has warmed the tundra, allowing new animals to compete for food there.
- People trying to reach oil and gas are causing problems for tundra animal and plant life.
- Using alternative energy sources can help prevent global warming and the destruction of tundras.
- As permafrost thaws it releases carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas.
Tundra Learning Activities
If you didn't get enough facts about tundras, check out these other science games and resources to learn more:
- Test your knowledge with a Tundra Crossword Puzzle then check your answers to see how well you did.
- Build your own virtual tundra biome by choosing the correct plants, animals, precipitation, and climate for the ecosystem.
- Watch a short documentary about exactly what a tundra is:
Know How Things Survive the Harsh Ecosystem
Tundra facts can help you understand how plants and animals are able to survive and thrive is such a harsh ecosystem. Imagine living in this kind of environment. Could you survive? For more chilly insight, check out our fun facts about Antarctica!