TUNDRA ECOSYSTEM (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     23rd April 2024        
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Context: The warming planet may alter the characteristics of tundra environments and could transform them from carbon sinks to carbon sources, a study has warned.


Tundra Ecosystem

  • About: It is a biome characterized by its extremely cold climate, low temperatures, and short growing seasons.
  • Distribution: It is primarily found in the polar regions, including the Arctic tundra in the Northern Hemisphere and the alpine tundra at high altitudes in mountain ranges.
  • Treeless Areas: Tundra ecosystems are almost treeless areas where environmental conditions are very severe.
  • Characteristics

oClimatic Conditions: The average temperature is -30 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to -6 degrees Celsius) in the Arctic tundra.

oSpecies Found: Animal species that may be found in the Arctic include polar bears, caribou, arctic foxes, gray wolves, snow geese, and musk oxen.

oShort Summers: The summer growing season is just 50 to 60 days, when the sun shines up to 24 hours a day.

oPrecipitation: Scanty rainfall, precipitation is mainly in the form of snow.

oSoil Composition: Permafrost, or soil that is perpetually frozen, is deficient in nutrients. It is a layer of frozen soil and dead plants that extends some 1,476 feet (450 meters) below the surface. A large portion of the Arctic is permanently frozen.

oLow Biotic Diversity: Due to its extremely low temperatures, little precipitation, and poor nutrients, tundra regions support very few species.

  • Tundras are divided into 3 types: Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine.

oArctic Tundra: It includes the northernmost regions of European Russia, Canada, Siberia, Alaska, and the Arctic Ocean’s island group. 

oAlpine Tundra: Alpine tundra can be found high up in the mountains above the treeline. 

oAntarctic Tundra: It encompasses the region surrounding the South Pole on the continent of Antarctica.

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