Characteristics Of Earth Biomes

Each of the Earth's biomes: arctic, desert, grasslands, forest, mountains, and rain forest have distinguishing characteristics.

The Earth has many different climates. Some places are very cold, others hot and dry. Where you live in the world determines what type of weather you will have. This is also called a biome. A biome is a large ecosystem where animals, people, plants and insects live in a certain type of climate. There are many different biomes such as Arctic, Desert, and grasslands just to name a few.

The Arctic is an area that is the furthest North on the Earth. It includes northern Europe (Scandinavia and Lapland), Asia (Siberia), North America (Alaska and Canada), and most of Greenland. The Arctic is the Earth's coldest biome, receiving the least amount of sun. During the almost 6 months of winter, the sun does not rise at all, sending the temperatures plummeting. It is not unusual for winter temperatures in this area to drop below negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis. Despite the bitter cold, land animals such as the polar bear, arctic fox, walrus and seal have adapted to the harsh conditions. Most of them survive on the rich marine life in the area such as shark, salmon, cod, coalfish and Alaskan King crab.

The desert is a biome with little or no water. Because of this, there is little or no life in these biomes. Scientists estimate that nearly 5% of the Earth is covered in desert. They can be found on every continent except Europe. Among the desert biomes, there are different kinds. The deserts found in the Antarctic and Central Asia (the Gobi) are dry but very cold, whereas most other deserts, such as the Sahara in Africa and the Atacama in South America are dry and very hot. These biomes, containing intense heat or intense cold, are nearly inhospitable to most life. However, there are a few animals which have adapted and thrive in this environment, such as reptiles-snakes and lizards- and amphibians- frogs and toads. The most famous desert animal may be the camel. It has the unusual ability to manufacture water from the fat it stores in its hump. At the edge of the Antarctic desert, the Emperor and the Adelie penguins not only survive but thrive.

The grasslands are a biome where the hot dry climates are perfect for growing food. Throughout the world they are known by different names. In South Africa the grasslands are called the veld. South America and Africa contain hot, tropical grasslands called savannas. In Eurasia, grasslands in the temperate zones are called steppes and those in South America, pampas. In the United States, they are called prairies and stretch from the midwest all the way to the Rocky Mountains. This biome is usually an inland area with vast areas of grassy fields that receive so little rain that the trees cannot grow. In the US, the prairie is used to graze cattle and cereal crops. There is life on these dry grasslands, such as the prairie dog, mule deer, and many types of species.

Mountains exist on all continents and cover almost 1/5 of the Earth. Many of the world's mountains run in 2 belts. One is called the ring of fire and runs from the west coast of the Americas through New Zealand and Australia and up through the Philippines to Japan. Another mountain belt stretches from the Pyrenees in France and Spain through the Alps and on the Himalayas into Indonesia. The mountain biome, though cold and windy, is still able to support life. Animals who have adapted to the lack of oxygen at high altitudes such as the mountain goat, sheep mountain lion, puma, and llama.

The forest biome consists of many different types of forests and climates. The rain forests are typically found in Asia, Africa, South and Central America and many Pacific islands. They receive almost 70 inches of rain per year, causing plant and animal life to not only thrive but explode. There are more species of plant animal and insect life in these biomes than any other biomes. The coniferous forests are found in the northern hemisphere and are conducive to cone-bearing trees such as the fir and the pine. This area supports life such as owls, squirrels, lynx and caribou. The deciduous forests are found in the temperate mild zone in the northern hemisphere. The trees in this biome lose their leaves during the fall, leading to extremely fertile soil and teeming with life.

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