What is Tundra Vegetation – Types, Features and Geography

Autumn Tundra Vegetation in Alaska

In geography, tundra is an area where low temperatures and short growing seasons hinder tree growth. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра, meaning “treeless mountain tract.” Tundra vegetation is composed of moss, grasses, and lichens. Disseminated trees grow in some tundra regions.

There are three kinds of tundra: Alpine tundra, Arctic tundra and Antarctic tundra.

Arctic Tundra

Arctic tundra can be seen in the far Northern Hemisphere, north of the taiga belt. It comprises stark landscape areas and is frozen almost the entire year. The soil there is frozen from 10 to 35 inches (25 to 90 cm) down, making it difficult for trees to grow. Instead, naked and sometimes rocky land can only hold certain kinds of Arctic vegetation, low expanding plants such as heath (Ericaceae varieties such as black bearberry and crowberry), moss, and lichen. Due to the severe climate of Arctic tundra, regions of this class have seen a negligible human population and activity, even though they are mostly rich in natural resources such as natural gas, petroleum, and uranium. In recent years this has begun to change in Alaska and some other parts of the world. For instance, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug produces almost 95% of Russia’s natural gas requirement.

Antarctic Tundra

Antarctic tundra transpires in Antarctica and several subantarctic islands, including South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia, and the Kerguelen Islands. Most of Antarctica is too dry and cold to support vegetation, and ice fields embrace most of the continent. However, some portions of the continent, especially the Antarctic Peninsula, have rocky soil areas that support plant life. The plants presently consist of around100 mosses, 300–400 lichens, 25 liverworts, and about 700 aquatic and terrestrial algae species, which live on rock and soil around the continent’s shore.

Antarctica’s two flowering plant species, Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) and the Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia Antarctica), are located on the western and northern sections of the Antarctic Peninsula. In contrast with the Arctic tundra, the Antarctic tundra has no major large mammal population, mostly due to its natural isolation from the other continents. Sea mammals and sea birds, including penguins and seals, occupy areas near the shore, and some small mammals, like cats and rabbits, have been introduced by humans to some of the subantarctic islands.

Alpine Tundra

Alpine tundra does not hold trees because of the soils and climate at high altitude block tree growth. The alpine tundra’s cold weather is created by the low air temperatures and is comparable to the polar environment. Unlike arctic tundra, alpine tundra does not have permafrost, and alpine soils are usually better drained than arctic soils.

Alpine tundra occurs in the mountains globally. The flora of the alpine tundra is defined by plants that grow close to the ground, including sedges, perennial grasses, cushion plants, forbs, lichens, and mosses. The flora is adapted to the harsh conditions’ alpine environment, which includes dryness, low temperatures, ultraviolet radiation, and a short growing season.


Places having a Tundra Climate

  • Tiksi, Russia
  • Cerro de Pasco, Peru
  • Longyearbyen, Norway
  • Iqaluit, Canada
  • Kerguelen Islands, French Southern Lands(France)
  • Apartaderos, Venezuela
  • Grytviken, South Georgia (United Kingdom)
  • Nuuk, Greenland (Denmark)
  • Uyuni, Bolivia
  • Murghob, Tajikistan
  • Mount Wellington, Australia
  • Blönduós, Iceland
  • Mykines, Faroe Islands (Denmark)
  • Putre, Chile
  • Coranzuli, Argentina
  • Cairn Gorm, United Kingdom
  • Campbell Island, New Zealand

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