Meaning of Tundra

What is Tundra:

The coldest biome on the planet is called tundra, which are those flat extensions of land with little vegetation, whose climate is subglacial, the subsoils are frozen and there is an absence of trees.

The word tundra derives from the Russian word тундра, which means "plain without trees."

The ecosystems that make up the tundra are located in different geographical points and share very similar general characteristics. The tundras occupy approximately one tenth of the firm territory of the planet.

In the northern hemisphere the tundras are found in Siberia, northern Canada, Alaska, the European Arctic coast and southern Greenland and in the southern hemisphere the tundras are in the extreme south of Argentina, Chile, subantarctic islands and in some areas of the north of Antarctica that are close to sea level.

Hence, the different ecosystems that exist in the tundras have general characteristics that facilitate their identification, among them, low temperatures, frozen soils or thick and extensive layers of snow, scarce vegetation, among others.

There are three types of tundras that are named as follows:

Arctic: these tundras are located in the northern hemisphere and occupy an extensive territory including Canada, Alaska and Eurasia. Average temperatures are between -8 ° C and -60 ° C.

In summer, a large number of migratory animals arrive due to the temperatures and biodiversity.

Alpine - These tundras are found in mountains throughout the world. As a result of the heights of the mountains, no trees grow, however their soils are usually well drained.

The lowest temperatures occur at night and are usually below 0 ° C.

Antarctica: it is the least common type of tundra. It is found in the Antarctic regions, in British overseas territory in the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. These tundras are very far from other territories, for this reason they lack fauna.


The flora in the tundras is scarce, there are no trees, only small plants grow, with a maximum height of ten centimeters, capable of withstanding the strong winds and cold of the ground, the most numerous are lichens and moss. Some plants even manage to flower.

The land in the tundras is not very nutritious, therefore it is not very fertile and there is not an abundance of vegetation.


The animals that inhabit the tundras survive and have adapted to a series of very difficult living conditions as a result of extreme temperatures, a lack of rain and vegetation.

Animals that inhabit the tundras are wolves, arctic foxes, polar bears, seals, sea lions, hares, reindeer, hawks, caribou, seagulls and, in some cases, mountain goats.

Many of these animals survive thanks to the thick layers of fat that they have under their skin to isolate the cold, because they build tunnels in the ground or snow to protect themselves, among others.

Characteristics of the tundra

The general characteristics of the tundras are as follows:

  • The soils are not very fertile due to the scarce rainfall and the little amount of decomposed organic elements in the earth.
  • The landscapes of the tundras are desert.
  • When the summer season arrives, the soils become swampy due to the thaw.
  • There are strong and very cold winds.
  • There is little flora and fauna.
  • The temperatures are very low and extreme.
  • The soils of the tundras contain the largest amount of carbon in the world, when the ice melts the carbon is released in the form of carbon dioxide.
  • The tundras being under these extreme conditions of low temperatures prevent carbon dioxide gases from being released and polluting.
  • Two phenomena occur in the tundras, the polar night and the midnight sun.

Tundra climate

In the tundras the average temperature is usually -28 ° C during the winter season. However, summers are different, diverse migratory animals usually arrive in the tundras during that season in search of food and a home.

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