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A tundra biome is a vast permafrost plain ecosystem characterized by an extremely cold climate, absence of trees and minimal survival of plants and animals. About 20% of the Earth’s land surface is covered with tundra, like in the Arctic Circle.
See the fact file below for more information on the tundra biome or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Tundra Biome worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Etymology and Geography
- The term “tundra” is derived from the Finnish word tunturi, which means treeless plain or barren land. Tundras are among the coldest and harshest biomes on Earth. Plants and animals that do manage to survive here are highly adapted.
- These icy, treeless regions are mostly found in the Arctic and on top of freezing and windy mountains. Despite its almost uninhabitable conditions, tundras are one of the most interesting biomes on Earth.
- The average temperature in the tundra is about -10 to 20 ℉. Although covered with snow much of the year, it also experiences short summers.
- During summer, the sun shines all day, even at midnight. This phenomenon is known as the Midnight Sun.
- Tundras are distinct from other biomes as they have permanent ice sheets. During the summer, snow recedes a bit allowing specific vegetation to grow.
- The long winter lasts for eight months and the sun may not be seen for weeks in the middle of the winter.
- Most tundras are located in the northern regions of the Earth and are typically flat with a few hill formations. Due to the presence of permafrost, or a layer of frozen soil and dead plants, the melted snow during summer does not drain away.
- Aside from extreme cold and wind, tundras are very dry due to almost zero rainfall. Ice flowers are the crystals formed in salt when the sea freezes during extremely cold winters.
- The tundra biome is classified into three main categories: the Arctic tundra in the vast areas of northern Russia and Canada; the Antarctic tundra, located in Antarctica, and other islands nearby; and the Alpine tundra across the mountain ranges of North America, Asia, Europe and Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro).
Flora and Fauna
- Most plants in this harsh environment are short. Dwarf shrubs, grass and moss are adapted to the cold, windy climate. Moreover, several tundra plant species have red pigmentation, which helps them absorb more sunlight. Among the plant species found in this biome include Labrador tea, reindeer moss, diamond leaf willow, pasque flower and bearberry.
- Considerable numbers of plants grow during summer and become dormant during winter. Large trees are prevented from growing because of the permafrost, which hinders roots from penetrating the deeper soil.
- Compared to the approximate 400 varieties of plants, only 48 species of animal can survive in the tundra. Like plants, polar bears, arctic foxes, northern bog lemmings, wolverines, muskox, snow buntings and snowy owls are highly adapted to survive the extreme weather. Most of them have very thick fur coat with broad and furry feet. They usually hibernate or migrate south during winter. Come summertime, tundras become wetlands filled with insects, fish and more active animals.
Humans and Climate Change
- Due to the very cold environment, most tundras, except the Alaskan region, are uninhabited by people. Indigenous people of Alaska like the Aleut, Alutiiq, Inupiat, Central Yup’ik and Siberian Yupik are the original natives who inhabit parts of the tundra.
- A major threat to the tundra biome is global warming and climate change. Experts believe that global warming driven by the emission of greenhouse gases may permanently destroy the Arctic region.
- As a result of global warming, permafrost is melting, which changes biodiversity and affects the survival of sensitive species. Moreover, the melting of permafrost exacerbates global warming because of its high methane content.
- Oil and mineral extraction from tundra regions can cause physical disturbances and habitat fragmentation. Significantly, oil leaks can damage and kill existing wildlife.
- Environmentalists suggest solutions on how to protect the tundra region including:
- Use of alternative energy sources, which can minimize man-made global warming.
- Establishment of protected areas and park reserves.
- Limitation of oil and mineral exploration.
- Conservation of local culture and limitation of tourism.
Tundra Biome Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about tundra biome across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Tundra Biome worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the tundra biome which is a vast permafrost plain ecosystem characterized by an extremely cold climate, absence of trees and minimal survival of plants and animals. About 20% of the Earth’s land surface is covered with tundra, like in the Arctic Circle.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Tundra Biome Facts
- Define Tundra
- Icy Facts
- I Can Survive!
- Frozen Planet
- Major Biomes
- Where is the Tundra?
- Tundra Environment
- Biome Vocabulary
- Tundra and the Desert
- Environmental Danger
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Link will appear as Tundra Biome Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 6, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.