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The Artic Tundra

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Submitted By thehrd23
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The tundra artic plains completely covering most of the earth’s lands north of the coniferous forest belt. The tundra’s ecosystem is very sensitive. It doesn’t have a good ability to restore itself. Controlled by sedge, heath, willow, moss, and lichen. Plains that are pretty much alike, called alpine tundra, occur above the timberline in the high mountains of the world. Even the Antarctic area has a couple of its own arctic regions itself.

The climate of the tundra is characterized by harsh winters. The average temperature in the tundra area is about –27 degrees. But what is even worse are the long night. At nights the lowest temperture recorded was –67.36 degrees. There are even times in the year when the sun doesn’t come up for days. In the tundra we have little snow and even less rainfall. The rainfall is about a quarter inch in a yearly rainfall. Even though the tundra’s winters are long a harsh there summers are the shortest season of all. Do to the terrible weather and climate in the tundra their animals and plant life is very limited.

This artic tundra is mainly formed by permafrost, “a layer of permanently frozen subsoil in the ground. Putting frozen ground and flat landscape stops the drainage of water. As the water is being held up on the surface it makes ponds and bogs that give moisture for the plants, or countering the low precipitation. “The periodic freezing and thawing of the soil forms cracks in the ground in regularly patterned polygons”. Some areas are not drained very well causing irregular landforms. Some of these landforms like the following hummocks, or knolls, frost boils, and earth stripes. Another common area to the alpine tundra is a “bare rock covered ground” also known as fell fields, in which not alone support but helps the growth of lichens. The many “microhabitats” given by these landforms provide a variety to the tundra’s landscape.

As you already know the amount of different plant species in the tundra is very few. Also their growth level is low, “with most of the biomass concentrated in the roots. To add to the many difficulties the growing season isn’t very long its self. The plants are better off “to reproduce vegetative by division and budding than sexually by flower pollination”. The main plant life in that area is cotton grass, sedge, and dwarf heath also including mosses and lichens. Photosynthesis carries on at the low temperatures, low light intensities, and a long time of daylight.

Not only is the plant life limited but so is the animal life too. The tundra is a challenging environment to live and excel in. Musk, reindeer, and caribou are the dominant species of animal life in the tundra. They feed on mostly grass, sedge, lichens, and willow. Artic hares or better known as snowshoe rabbits, and lemming feed on grass and mostly sedge. The big predators of the area are the wolf, artic fox, and snowy owls. Polar bears and even sometimes brown bears are seen in the tundra. In the tundra the dominant bird is the snowy owl for the fact that in the winter when most of the other birds migrate to milder climates the snowy owl is there all year around. There are even insects such as black flies and mosquitoes.…...

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