What is the landscape like where you live? Are there warm, grassy plains? Dense forests? Tall mountains? Maybe tropical jungles?

Or do you live in a cold, harsh, treeless climate? If so, you might live on or near the tundra. Tundra areas are some of the world’s toughest places to live and survive.

Tundra lands have very cold, windy and dry climates. They are mainly treeless, as very few plants can grow in their cold temperatures and short growing seasons. The average temperature in tundra regions varies from around as low as -50° F in winter to as high as 10-20° F in summer. The vegetation on the tundra is mainly limited to small shrubs, grasses, mosses and lichens.

There are three main types of tundra lands, based upon where they are found. Arctic tundra is found near the Arctic Circle and includes the northernmost portions of Russia and Canada. Alpine tundra regions can be found in areas of the world with tall mountain ranges. Antarctic tundra can be found in Antarctica.

For most of the year, tundra lands are covered in snow. In fact, tundra lands feature a layer called permafrost, which is made up of frozen soil and dead plants that can extend over 1,000 feet below the surface of the ground. This layer often stays frozen all year long.

In some warmer areas, though, the top layer of tundra may melt during the summer. When it does, bogs and small lakes form, attracting all sorts of wildlife. Wildflowers may also burst into bloom, temporarily transforming the frozen tundra into a beautiful landscape.

These temporary wetland areas also attract insects, which in turn attract migratory birds. There are also several other animals that call the tundra home. Some common tundra animals include mountain goats, Arctic foxes, polar bears, gray wolves, caribou and musk oxen. These animals usually have developed special ways of surviving in the cold, dry tundra conditions.

As difficult as it is for plants and animals to survive in the tundra, it’s even harder for human beings. There are very few people who live on or near the tundra. Some indigenous peoples in the Arctic regions will hunt on the tundra. In addition, mineral resources, like oil and ores, have been found in the tundra, but the tundra’s climate usually makes it too difficult to find and mine these resources.


25 Join the Discussion

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  1. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I loved today’s wonder! I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about mother’s day.

    Remember back on wonder of the day #581 – How do you make a piñata? I thought wonder of the day #582 was about carrying stuff and I was wrong. Wonder of the day #582 was not about carrying stuff. Wonder of the day #582 was Who invented play dough?


    • Happy Saturday, TJ! We really look forward to getting awesome comments from you over the weekends here in Wonderopolis! Thanks for letting us know what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about…we WONDER if your guess is correct? Let’s meet back here in Wonderopolis tomorrow morning and find out together, OK? :-)

    • You sure were, TJ! Thanks for waking up bright and early with us to WONDER about TUNDRA this morning! You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Hello, “A!” The very first Wonder of the Day® (we like to call it the “Wonder that started it all”) is Wonder #1 – Why Are Flamingos Pink? Here’s a link that will take you right to it: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/pink-flamingos/. Thanks for asking such a cool question! We hope you have fun WONDERing about flamingos! :-)

    • We like that guess a lot, Rahul! We can’t wait to visit Wonderopolis tomorrow to see if your guess is correct…have a SUPER, AMAZING, AWESOME, WONDERful day! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you also think tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® might be about Mother’s Day, “Wonder!” We appreciate your comment today! :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing your comment with us today, Bob! We’re glad you like tacos…maybe you can make some for your mom as a special dinner tomorrow for Mother’s Day! We bet she would really like that! :-)

  2. Hey Wonderopolis,miss me? I’m in Amaracia right now and NOT and I mean “NOT” ONCE SINCE I FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS WEBSITE I NOT GO ON IT A DAY. Anyways, my battery is running out so, I have to put it on charge.

    Your wonder friend Mushkale!!!!!

    • Hi, Mushkale! It’s great to hear from you! We’re glad you like visiting Wonderopolis! Thanks for sharing another WONDERful comment with us! We hope you have a GREAT day! :-)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis
    I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about mother’s day. Speaking of mother’s day, i already have a present for my mom tomorrow.

    from Graycee

    • We bet your mom is going to LOVE her Mother’s Day present, Graycee…because it came from YOU! Thanks for sharing what you think the next Wonder will be about! :-)

    • Hello, Grace! We’re sure glad you left us this comment to let us know you like wolves and Wonderopolis! We think those are two AWESOME things that start with the letter “W!” :-)

    • Hi, Rithik! We try our best to answer every comment we get from our AMAZING Wonder Friends! When a Wonder Friend (like you) leaves us a comment on a Wonder of the Day®, it doesn’t show up in the comment section for everyone to see right away. We have to make sure we give ourselves time to read each comment carefully and we also make sure each comment is safe for all of our Wonder Friends to see and share! Once we know that a comment is safe, we share it with everyone and reply to it! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where can you find tundra?
  • What is permafrost?
  • What kinds of animals live on the tundra?


Wonder Gallery

Rocky Mountain_shutterstock_78927370Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Want to teach friends and family members more about tundra? If you have a shoebox, some dirt and a few other easy-to-find supplies, you can make your own homemade tundra project at home.

For a complete list of materials you’ll need and detailed instructions, just jump online to check out How to Make a Tundra Project. You might need an adult’s help, so be sure to ask for assistance if you need it.

When you’re finished with your project, post a picture of it on Facebook. We can’t wait to see how it turns out!


Still Wondering

Explore Science NetLinks’ Biomes of the World resource to learn about the climate, plants and animals found in rainforest, tundra, taiga, desert, temperate and grassland biomes.


Wonder What’s Next?

Make sure you check out tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day and be sure to share it with your mom!

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