tundra climate

Tundra Climate: What Is It & The Definition

Cold climates interest many individuals due to the long winters and lack of human civilization. That is why people are still learning and researching what the tundra climate is like and why individuals do not live in these places.

This post is going to break down everything you need to know about the tundra climate. Remember to share this with your friends who also want to learn.

First off, defining the tundra climate is important. It is an ecosystem that is tree-less. The climate tends to be cold and windy, while rainfall is scarce. Also, there is snow almost all year-round, but there is a burst of wildflower life during the summer.

What Causes a Tundra Climate?

The reason for a tundra to form is because it takes in more carbon dioxide than it produces. One of the three major carbon dioxide sinks on Earth is the tundra. Also, the northern latitude and cold climate create the interesting soil structure. Meanwhile, the permafrost is a layer on the Earth’s soil that is frozen all year long.

Characteristics of a Tundra Climate


Some may not know this, but the tundra is considered a desert. The reason why is because it only gets up to 25 centimeters of precipitation annually. Also, they have found that around two-thirds of the precipitation falls during the summer months. The rest of it falls in different forms such as snow.


It is cold in the tundra climate. The average temperature is between -34 to -6 degrees Celsius. Also, the coldest climate on Earth is the tundra. It also happens to be windy in these regions, with winds going as fast as 30-60 mph.

The arctic tundra winters average between -34 degrees Celsius during the winter and between 3 to 12 degrees Celsius in the summer.

Types of Tundra Seasons


The summer are short in the tundra climate. Some parts of the tundra climate only have 50 to 60 days of summer. This is where the creatures who occupy this land take the time out to find nutrients that they can keep for the rest of the year when the weather conditions are too harsh to go hunting.


Winters in the tundra climate are long, cold, and dark. The temperature is always below the freezing mark and it is like this for six to 10 months a year. This is why there is permafrost, because the temperature is too cold for too long. Also, the sun may not shine in the tundra for many weeks during the darkest time of the winter.

Locations with Tundra Climate

Arctic Tundra

The arctic tundra can be found in the northern hemisphere. This hemisphere is also surrounding the North Pole. It is known to be freezing and to have very dry conditions. That is why it is called a frozen desert. It covers 20% of the Earth’s surface.

Alpine Tundra

Unlike the arctic tundra, the alpine tundra can be found at the top of the world’s highest mountains. These regions also have freezing temperatures and dry air. However, there tends to be more sunlight in these areas because of how high up they are.


The Antarctica climate is a lot colder than the arctic region. It has an average temperature of -56 degrees Celsius.

Effect of Global Warming on Tundra Climate

Every year, several feet of tundra is lost due to global warming. As the world continues to heat up, the tundra melts, and the plant mass begins to decompose. This then releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Also, more people have moved to the tundra for work. They are mining for oil and this has disturbed a lot of animals and their homes. Many polar bears have starved because of their habitat being taken away from them.

With the mining and drilling, there has been a lot of pollution released into the air, rivers, and lakes. Around some of the areas, the pollution has become so bad that plants have died.

Plants and Animals of Tundra Climate

animals of tundra climate

Even though precipitation is limited in the tundra, the animals and plants have learned to live off of the limited rainfall. With a frozen ground and limited light, plants find it difficult to live in the tundra. However, scientists have found that there are almost 1,700 different plants that do live in the tundra.

These plants are able to live off of nitrogen and phosphorus. They are able to grow during the summer months when the snow does melt. In the alpine tundra, the plant life there is also very similar.

What is interesting to note is that these plants do not have a deep root system. They keep their roots shallow, so they can remain wet in the topsoil. This is also why shrubs and lower plants tend to be more common, because trees need to place their roots deep into soil, but they cannot in the tundra.

Also, the smaller plants are able to stay low and try to avoid the harsh weather patterns of the tundra. It has also been found that they grow closer together in order to stay warm.

When it comes to the animal life, there is not very much. There are around 48 different mammals that occupy the tundra. All of these animals have needed to adapt to the harsh climate of the tundra. They tend to have stocky, large frames with an abundance of fur and fat. This helps them protect themselves against the cold.

There are not a lot of burrowing animals because of the permafrost. Also, it is harder to gather hibernation food, so many animals do not hibernate. That is why they need to either be active or migrate during the winter months.

The birds that live in the tundra tend to have long wingspans. Insect species tend to all be aquatic. Waterfowl and caribou tend to go up north during their breeding season but travel down south when the weather becomes too harsh.

Notable predators of the tundra include wolverines, wolves, polar bears, and arctic foxes. The smaller animals include lemmings and snowshoe rabbits.

Facts About Tundra Climate

  • Tundra means ‘treeless plain’ in Finnish
  • Permafrost can extend to almost 1,500 feet underground
  • Summers can be as short as six weeks
  • During the summer, the daytime lasts for 24 hours
  • The land is sensitive and does not recover well from damage


The tundra climate is one of the largest biomes on Earth. It is also the coldest climate. With so much history to learn from these lands, researchers are still looking to find out more about these regions. However, with global warming becoming an increasingly alarming issue, there might be a day where these tundra plains no longer exist.

If you’ve found this interesting, then share it with your friends so that they can also learn about the tundra climate.


Which Is Colder, Tundra, or Polar Climate?

The tundra is the coldest of all the biomes. It also does not have a large amount of precipitation, making it a desert.

Is Tundra a Polar Climate?

There are two types of polar climates. One is ET, or tundra climate, and the other is EF, which is the ice cap climate. The tundra is classified as a polar climate because it sits in the polar regions.

How Warm Can the Tundra Get in The Summers?

In the summer, the tundra can reach temperatures between 3 to 12 degrees Celsius.

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