Tundra Ecosystem

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A study has warned the warming planet may alter the characteristics of tundra environments and could transform them from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

About Tundra Ecosystem

  • Tundra ecosystems are treeless regions found in the Arctic and on the tops of mountains, where the climate is cold and windy, and rainfall is scant.
  • Characteristics of Tundra Regions
    • Low temperatures: The average temperature is -34 to -6 degrees Celsius (-30 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit) in tundra region.
    • Short growing seasons: The summer growing season is just 50 to 60 days, when the sun shines up to 24 hours a day.
    • Permafrost: A layer of permanently frozen soil lies beneath the surface, which can be a few inches to several feet thick.
    • Minimal precipitation: Despite often being compared to deserts in terms of moisture, the tundra receives low levels of precipitation, often as snow.
    • Limited biodiversity: The harsh conditions of the tundra result in fewer plant and animal species compared to other biomes.
    • Carbon sink: The tundra acts as a significant carbon storage area due to slow decomposition rates in the cold environment.
  • The world has three types of tundra:
    • Arctic Tundra which occurs north of the taiga belt in the far Northern Hemisphere (It encompasses the land between the North Pole and the boreal forest, including parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.)
    • Alpine tundra which prevails above the tree line in mountains worldwide (in various mountain ranges such as the Rockies, the Andes, the Himalayas, and the Alps).
    • Antarctic tundra which includes several sub-Antarctic islands and parts of the continent of Antarctica
  • Flora: Mosses, lichens, sedges, cotton grass, birches etc.

Fauna: Arctic foxes, snow geese, polar bears etc.

Q1) What is the Arctic Council?

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum for discussing and addressing issues concerning the Arctic region. These include scientific research and peaceful and sustainable use of resources in the region. The Council was established by the 8 Arctic States through the Ottawa Declaration of 1996.

Source: Warming planet may transform tundra ecosystems from carbon sinks to sources