Arctic Biome

Arctic Biome

 The Arctic tundra covers one fifth of the Earth's surface across parts of Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia in the northern hemisphere. 

For more information on the arctic tundra, click here.

People of the Arctic

Despite the freezing-cold temperatures, approximately four million people call this wintery wonderland home. Amongst these are the indigenous people of the Arctic called the Inuits. They've found ingenious ways to survive in one of the harshest environments on our planet.

Like a desert...

Although arctic tundra ecosystems are wet underfoot in the summer, they actually receive very little rain, with less than 25 cm falling every year. This makes them as dry as many of the world's deserts. Unlike rainfall, wind is plentiful in the Arctic, often blowing across these stark landscapes at 30-60 mph.

Basically, only two seasons... summer and winter

During summertime in the Arctic, temperatures often sit somewhere between 26°F and 54°F, and the sun is out-although low on the horizon-for 24 hours a day. Plants of the arctic tundra do all their yearly growing during the summer months between June and September because it's the only time when growing isn't biologically impossible due to cold.

And when it's cold here, it's very cold. Winter from December to March brings temperatures averaging -34°C, dropping as low as -58°F. Then, there's the darkness to deal with. Close to the North Pole, the days in winter time aren't just short, they're non-existent; the sun doesn't even peep over the horizon for a period of about two months every year. Because of the Earth's tilt, for at least one day a year there's an entire day of darkness in this freezing region (the good news there is also a full day of sunshine). Imagine that!

Even though conditions in the world's coldest biome are harsh, many plants and animals call it home. Tundra plants tend to be small and live in clumps, and they include mosses, lichens and liverworts, plus grasses, sedges, and dwarf shrubs. These plants are food for animals like arctic hares and squirrels, caribou, lemmings and voles; eating these animals in turn are arctic foxes, wolves, and polar bears. Migratory birds also visit the arctic tundra in its summertime to feast on the bazillions of insects that breed here during this warmish, wettish time of year. The Arctic is also home to walruses, seals and whales. In addition, one fascinating species found only in the Arctic is the narwhal, often referred to as the "unicorn of the sea". Male narwhals have a straight tusk projecting from the front of their head that can grow to over 3m in length!

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