The tundra is a biome between the coldest parts of the Arctic or Antarctic and the temperate climates found e.g. in Northern Europe and southern Canada. The characteristic feature of tundra is the permafrost—in summer, only the surface will thaw, but below the surface, the ground is frozen.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
This biome is known for its large, grassy plains where it never gets hot due to the latitude; it is to a large part beyond the Arctic Circle. Tundra regions are more remote than temperate grassland regions, and trees are scarce or absent.
On the right is a graph showing average temperatures (Fahrenheit) for Nome, Alaska. The dotted line that goes through the center of the graph marks freezing temperature, 32 °F (0 °C). Climates that fail to consistently pass freezing temperature in summer are classified as ice cap climates, and exist primarily in Greenland, the Arctic, and the Antarctic, although all of these regions have tundra climates as well. The difference is that most ice cap climates have permanent ice and snow cover, often hundreds of metres deep, while tundra climates are mostly ice-free (on the surface) in summer. Tundra climates are barely habitable, while ice cap climates are uninhabitable and typically only visited for scientific purposes.
- Alaska's Arctic region, including 1 Nome and the 2 North Slope features a tundra climate, with extremely cold winters.
- Much of northern Canada, being immediately east of Alaska, has a tundra climate with continental influences from the south.
- Coastal Greenland has a more moderate tundra climate in the south, but winters are cold in the north. The ocean keeps temperatures cool to mild during summer, although a few locations between the coast and the ice cap receive warmer weather.
- Iceland receives mild summers and cool to cold winters, though its climate is moderated greatly by ocean currents, and therefore has five times Greenland's population despite being as far north.
- The northernmost portion of the Nordic countries as well as 3 Svalbard, one of the world's northernmost inhabited areas.
- The northern coastline of Russia, as well as many of its Arctic islands.
Remoteness has its own risks, and means help is not easily available in emergencies. The cold weather, which dominates the region, makes this problem only worse. The tundra provides little shelter in case of severe weather. Make sure you plan your trips adequately, have appropriate clothing and gear, and have experienced company.