Friday, January 20, 2012

BIOMES: Tundra

Tundra biomes are cold and treeless with very little precipitation. The landscape is quite bare with vegetation specially adapted to the low temperatures.
Characteristics and climate

Tundra areas include Northern parts of Canada, Russia and Alaska. Summers may have many hours of continuous daylight. Winters are long, dark periods.The temperatures stay below 0°C most of the year. The ground remains frozen, apart from a few centimetres of thaw in the summer. The precipitation is gentle, mainly falling as snow. The winds can be very strong. The climatic conditions mean that the landscape is quite bare, with little vegetation.

Climate graph for Baker Lake, Canada

Arctic tundra in the Yukon Territory, Canada

Vegetation adaptation
Cotton grass is one example of a plant able to survive these conditions. The features which make it able to survive are:Vegetation needs to be able to tolerate cold. Very few species are able to do this. Plants are low growing, compact and rounded in order to help protect from the wind. The frozen ground means soils are waterlogged.
  • low-lying - the snow covers it in winter which helps insulate it
  • seeds that scatter in the wind
  • narrow leaves helping to reduce transpiration
  • adapted to a short growing season (so has a short life cycle)
  • dense flower heads reducing heat loss
  • darker leaves helps absorb energy from Sun
Tundra pond with cotton grass growing nearby, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Courtesy: BBC

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