Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11210

Do you wondra what a tundra is? It is a place too cold and dry to have any trees. It doesn't sound like fun, but you'll enjoy learning about the plants and animals that live there!



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personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

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  • Do you know what the coldest biome is?

The tundra! That's right. In this lesson, you will learn about the tundra. You will learn where the tundra can be found, and what the climate is like there.



The tundra is mostly located in the northern hemisphere, but can also be found in the southern hemisphere in Antarctica.

The tundra is the highlighted portion of the map pictured below. It is found in the upper regions of North America, Antarctica, Europe, and Asia:

map of tundra areas

In order for a place to be considered a tundra, it has to be cold, dry, and treeless. The tundra has an extremely cold climate and very little rain.

There are three types of tundra: arctic tundra, Antarctic tundra, and alpine tundra.

tundra in july

Arctic tundra is located near the top of the northern hemisphere.

In the artic tundra, the soil is permanently frozen; this is called permafrost. The arctic tundra has no trees because its soil is frozen solid.

There are two seasons in the arctic tundra: winter and summer. The winter is cold and dark. During the winter, the temperature averages around –18 degrees Fahrenheit, and can sometimes drop to –50 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the summer, the temperatures rise to about 54 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime. The summer temperatures cause the permafrost to melt, leaving the ground wet and soggy.

The arctic tundra only gets six to ten inches of rain per year.

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Antarctic tundra is very similar to the arctic tundra. This tundra is located in the southern hemisphere in Antarctica and the smaller islands around Antarctica.

The temperature and lack of rain make it nearly impossible for most plants to grow here. The average temperature in the winter is –18 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes the temperatures can drop as low as –58 degrees Fahrenheit! The soil here is permanently frozen and is called permafrost.

The temperatures here are coldest during the winter, and slightly warmer during the short summer season. Antarctic tundra and arctic tundra are both very similar; the only thing that makes them slightly different is their location and what animals are found there.


Alpine tundra can be found in the mountains of the northern hemisphere.

The altitude is too high for any trees to grow. Unlike the arctic tundra, the alpine tundra does not have permafrost.

The alpine tundra can be found worldwide at the tops of mountains, where trees are unable to grow.


During the summer, the temperature varies from 10 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The alpine tundra gets an average of 11 inches of rain per year.


Great! Now that you know the differences among an arctic tundra, Antarctic tundra, and alpine tundra, you are ready to move on to the next section!

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