Tundra Climate - Polar Arctic Climate - Civil Services Preparation Online! UPSC & IAS Study Material

Tundra Climate - Polar Arctic Climate

by Devender

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This type of climate is found mainly in the north of the Arctic Circle in the N-hemisphere while in the S-Hemisphere, Antarctica is the virtually uninhabited continent. It is the greatest single stretch of ice caps and it is always covered with snow.

Tundra Climate – Polar Arctic Climate

Greenland and highlands of high altitude regions, where the ground is permanently snow-covered are where these ice caps are confined. The lowlands have tundra vegetation with a few ice-free months. They include the coastal strip of Greenland, the barren grounds of northern Canada, and the Arctic seaboard of Eurasia.

  • Tundra Climate:
  • The tundra climate is associated with a very low annual temperature range as the winters are long and freezing whereas summers are very brief and cool. The warmest temperature might be around 10 Degree C. Normally, there are only 4 months with temperatures above the freezing point.

  • There are weeks of continuous darkness within the Arctic and Antarctic circles
  • There are 6 months without light at the North Pole in winter
  • The temperature remains low in summers too, despite the long duration of sunshine
  • The sun doesn't set but its rays are too oblique and much of it gets reflected by the snow while rest is used up to melt the ice. The ground remains inaccessible to plants as it remains solidly frozen throughout the year except for the four summer months but frosting occurs all the time.

  • Blizzards with a velocity of 100 miles/hour are very frequent
  • The thick fog that lasts for days develop in the coastal regions where warmer water meets cold land
  • The precipitation is very low in the Polar Regions with only 12 inches per year
  • It is mainly in the form of snow
  • It takes 10-12 inches of snow for 1 inch of rain
  • Due to the low rate of evaporation and lack of moisture in the cold polar air, convectional rainfall is generally absent

  • Tundra Vegetation:
  • There are no trees in the tundra because of less than three months of the growing season and the temperature of the warmest month not exceeding 10 Degree C. Only the lowest form of vegetation, mosses, lichens and sedges are supported by such an environment.

  • The climatic conditions along the coastal lowlands are a little more favourable
  • Some hardy grass such as reindeer moss grows to form the only pasture for herbivore animals such as reindeer
  • In the brief summer, the snow melts, and the days get warmer and longer
  • It enables berry-bearing bushes and Arctic flowers to blossom
  • It brightens up the tundra landscape into Arctic prairies

  • Human Activities and Developments:

The people of the tundra live a semi-nomadic life and Human activities are largely confined to coasts. Eskimos live in Greenland, Northern Canada, and Alaska. They live in igloos (ice homes) in winters while in portable skin tents in summers when they move out to hunt.

Other nomadic tribes living in the Eurasian tundra are:

Northern Finland and Scandinavia
Siberia (From the Ural mountains and Yenisey basin)
Siberia (Baikal Mountains and Lena River Basin)
Koryuks and Chuckchi
North-East Asia

The discovery of minerals in the arctic region has gradually sprung up the region which was once considered useless. These minerals are:

Gold, Petroleum, Coal
Nickel, Shale Gas
Iron Ore
Labrador (Canada)

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