Tundra in the Western Andreafsky Wilderness of Alaska (U.S.)
Click on image for full size
USGS - Daniel R. Ruthrauff, photographer
It is not easy to survive in the very cold places of the world. The soil is frozen and no trees can grow. This place is called tundra. Plants and animals that are adapted for cold do live there. Most tundra is in the north polar region. It is called Arctic tundra. There is a small amount of tundra on parts of Antarctica that are not covered with ice. Plus, tundra is found on mountains at high altitudes and is called alpine tundra.
Tundra is special
because it has permafrost. Permafrost is frozen ground. The ground is frozen in the tundra for most of the year.
In the summer, energy from the Sun thaws the top surface of the ground. Plants grow, but trees can't because the ground is frozen a few inches down.
Lots of animals go to the tundra in the summer. Some even stay through the cold winter!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
In the Arctic, you will find the Arctic Ocean surrounded by the continents of Europe, Asia, and North America. You will find the geographic North Pole and the magnetic North Pole there; both are in the...more
It is too cold for trees to grow in the north polar region. This place without trees is called the Arctic tundra. Trees can not grow there but many other things can! During the summer, grass, flowers,...more
Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. It is about one and a half times the size of the United States. Almost all of Antarctica is covered with a thick layer of ice called...more
Biomes are large areas of the world where there are similar plants, animals, and other living things. The living things are adapted to the climate. Explore the links below to learn more about different...more
Herbivores are animals that only eat plants. There are both big and small herbivores in the tundra. Musk-ox and caribou are both really big! Musk-ox look like hairy cows. They have fir that keeps them...more
The taiga biome is full of evergreen forests. These forests are sometimes called boreal forests. You can find taiga forests just south of tundra in the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and North America....more
All sorts of living things call Earth’s polar regions home – from tiny lichens of the Arctic tundra to huge blue whales swimming through the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean. Some animals are live near...more