What Is the Common Elevation of the Tundra?

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Tundra is one of the seven types of Earth environments, or biomes, each of which is characterized by specialized vegetation, climate and animal life. In a tundra biome, tree growth is sparse due to the shortness of the growing season and the cold average temperatures. Elevation can vary not only from one tundra to another, but within a single tundra.

Alpine Tundra

Alpine tundra exists in many places on the planet, with one distinguishing feature being variations in elevation. Alpine tundra cannot exist below the treeline. In Hawaii, Alpine tundra appears above the treeline at 9,000 feet, whereas in Mexico it appears as low as 3,500 feet. The average, however, is from 10,000 to 15,000 feet. Alpine tundra also exists in South America, the Himalayas, and Mt. Fuji, Japan.

Arctic Tundra

The Arctic tundra encircles the Northern Hemisphere just below the permanent ice of the polar region. As with alpine tundra, its elevation can vary, but the Arctic tundra ranges from 300 to 11,079 feet in elevation. Its highest point is a mountain, Gunnbjornsfjeld, in Watkins Range, Greenland.

Antarctic Tundra

The Antarctic tundra, according to "Tundra Biome: Tundra Plants and Animals," is a feature of both sub-Antarctic and Antarctic islands such as the South Sandwich Islands, with an elevation of about 4,125 feet; South Georgia, with an elevation of about 8,802 feet; and the Kerguelen Islands, with a high elevation of about 5,550 feet. The continent itself has little tundra because it is dominated by ice fields.