Most of the world's tundras are in the Arctic Circle, which covers about one-tenth of the total surface of the Earth, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. However, there are tundras based on elevation, not location. When a mountain region is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level, it can get as cold as the Arctic and have tundra even if it's far from the Arctic. The most important features of a tundra include cold temperature and little biodiversity. The growing season is limited to between two to four months a year. And for the most part, there are blinding snowstorms or whiteouts obscuring the region's landscape.
The Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world, is an Alpine Tundra. The Himalayan system is about 1,500 miles in length with varying widths between 150 to 200 miles. The Great Himalayan Range is made up of three parallel ranges: the Greater Himalayas (the higher Himalayas which includes Mount Everest), the Lesser Himalayas and the Outer Himalayas. This Asian mountain range on the border between Nepal and Tibet is generally covered by tundra. With climate and vegetation similar to Arctic regions, the spectra of these alpine and sub-alpine regions have nearly treeless biome. This means there are limited ecosystems in the area due to the very low temperature and thinner air coming from the very low air pressure.
Siberia is located in the northern-central part of Asia, largely in Russia. This vast region constituting almost all of northern Asia is an Arctic Tundra. Its proximity to the Arctic Ocean explains its presence in the tundra zone. Its natural landscape is sparsely populated amidst its vast plains. This region extends from the Ural Mountains to the watershed between the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic drainage basins and the Arctic Ocean going to central Kazakhstan and the boundaries of China and Mongolia. It makes up about 77% of Russia's territory, yet it only comprises about 25% of the country's population. This is primarily because of the notorious length and severity of its winters. Siberia is connected to the other parts of Russia through the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan at 12,388 feet, is an Alpine Tundra because of its frozen mountaintop regions. It is located near the Pacific coast within the island of Honshu, the largest of the Japanese islands. It is also situated between the prefectures Yamanashi and Shizuoka and is less than 100 miles away from Tokyo, the country's capital. While this composite volcano has not erupted since 1707, it is still considered active. Climbing to the higher areas of Mount Fuji outside the official season is extremely dangerous, especially without alpine climbing experience and equipment. Moreover, almost all roads and facilities close during the off season because of the vicious winter with temperatures below -40 degrees Fahrenheit and very strong winds that can literally blow you down.
- Photo Credit himalaya image by Balogh Eniko from Fotolia.com
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