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Arctic Tundra
Image that shows a portion of the Arctic Tundra landscape.Arctic tundra is found across northern Alaska, Canada, and Siberia. This biome has long cold winters and short cool summers. The Arctic tundra has low precipitation (less than 10 inches per year) and dry winds. These conditions make the Arctic tundra a desert-like climate (see climograph).

One unique characteristic of the Arctic tundra is permafrost--ground that is permanently frozen. Because the permafrost has no cracks or pores, nothing can penetrate it--neither plant roots nor water. The surface layer above the permafrost thaws each summer. This layer is called the active layer. Thickness of the active layer depends on its location in the tundra. The more northerly the location, the thinner the active layer is.

Image that shows a portion of the Arctic Tundra landscape.Curiously, during the summer Arctic tundra is characterized by lots of surface water. When snow melts, the water percolates through the active layer but is unable to penetrate the permafrost. Since the water has nowhere to go, the active layer becomes saturated and pools of water form on the surface. Another characteristic of the Arctic tundra is the limited amount of sunlight it receives due to the position of the Sun in the sky. Depending on the latitude, the Sun can remain below the horizon for up to 2 months, leaving the Arctic tundra in darkness. Although the sun remains in the sky 24 hours a day during the summer, it stays close to the horizon and provides only low intensity sunlight. Photos 2000-www.arttoday.com

Image of a climograph for Barrow, Alaska.  Please have someone assist you with this.

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Arctic Tundra
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Biomes | Biome Summary | How to Read a Climograph | Arctic Tundra | Deciduous Forest | Desert | Taiga | Tropical Rainforest | Tropical Savannah

Diversity | Adaptation | Plate Tectonics | Cycles | Spheres | Biomes | Geologic Time

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April 28, 2005

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