Which Environment has Low Temperatures and Low Humidity

Which Environment Has Low Temperatures and Low Humidity?

The tundra biome is characterized by low temperatures and low humidity.

This frigid environment offers a unique set of challenges for the plants and animals that call it home.

In this article, we’ll explore the defining features of the tundra and discover why it has such low temperatures and humidity.

Which Environment Has Low Temperatures and Low Humidity?

Tundra Biome
Image Credit: World Atlas

The tundra is the environment with the lowest temperatures and humidity on Earth.

This frigid, desert-like biome faces bitterly cold temperatures, arid conditions, and a short growing season.

Key Points

  • The tundra has an average temperature ranging from -30°F in winter to 50°F in summer.
  • Precipitation is very low, with just 4-10 inches of rainfall per year.
  • Permafrost keeps the ground frozen solid for most of the year.

What Are Some Defining Features of the Tundra?

The tundra is located in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, as well as at high elevations.

Due to the latitude and elevation, the tundra receives fewer hours of sunlight and lower intensity sunlight compared to equatorial regions.

The angle of the sun results in less direct heating, keeping temperatures low.

The tundra has a short summer season that lasts just 50-60 days.

During this time, the average temperature remains below 50°F.

There is a marginal amount of precipitation, with average annual rainfall between 4-10 inches.

The soil in the tundra is frozen for much of the year.

This is known as permafrost.

The permanently frozen subsurface prevents drainage, resulting in bogs and lakes.

Why Are Temperatures So Low in the Tundra?

Artic Tundra Biome
Image Credit: Conserve Energy Future

The chilly climate of the tundra is primarily due to its location at extreme northern latitudes.

Far from the direct rays of the sun, little warmth reaches the ground.

The average temperature in tundra regions ranges from -30°F in winter to 50°F in summer.

In addition, the ground is perpetually frozen.

Permafrost develops when subsurface soil remains frozen throughout the entire year.

This permafrost can extend up to 4,900 feet into the ground.

The frozen soil prevents heat absorption, keeping the tundra icy cold even in summer.

The vegetation and terrestrial animals in the tundra have adapted to withstand the frigid conditions. Mammals and birds grow dense, insulating fur and feathers. To limit heat loss, arctic foxes and ptarmigans turn white during the winter. Plants stay low to the ground and grow in dense clumps.

Why Is the Tundra So Dry?

The tundra is classified as a desert biome due to its low precipitation.

Most tundra regions receive less than 20 inches of precipitation annually, the majority in the form of snow.

One reason for the lack of rainfall is the absence of vegetation.

With few trees, shrubs, and plants covering the ground, there is little evapotranspiration occurring that would add moisture to the air.

The frozen ground also contributes to the arid conditions.

Permafrost prevents rain and melted snow from seeping into the soil.

This leads to excessive runoff.

The water quickly drains away over the surface instead of evaporating.

Cold air has a reduced capacity to hold water vapor compared to warm air.

The frigid temperatures result in low relative humidity.

Even when moisture is present, the cold air cannot retain it.

How Do Plants Survive the Harsh Conditions?

The bitterly cold temperatures and lack of moisture make the tundra a difficult place for plants to thrive.

But some species like fungi have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions.

Many tundra plants are characterized by dwarfism, which is an adaptation brought about by their environment.

By growing low to the ground, they avoid the impact of cold winds and keep warm air trapped near the soil.

Plants also cluster together, providing shared insulation from freezing temperatures.

To cope with permafrost, tundra plants develop shallow root systems in the thin active layer above the frozen soil.

Species such as lichens, mosses, grasses, and small shrubs dominate the flora.

These hardy plants capitalize on the short growing season.

When summer temperatures rise briefly, tundra plants are primed to quickly carry out photosynthesis.

Which Animals Are Equipped for Life in the Tundra?

The extreme temperatures and lack of shelter make the tundra a challenging place for animals.

But some species have anatomical, physiological, and behavioral adaptations to survive.

Hoofed herbivores like reindeer, muskoxen, and caribou scrape away snow to reach vegetation.

Thick coats of fur or feathers trap body heat, and hooves act as snowshoes.

Predators including arctic foxes and polar bears have dense, water-repellent fur and a thick layer of body fat for insulation.

These carnivores hunt herbivores as a vital food source.

Other mammals minimize their exposure through hibernation or by sheltering in burrows.

Lemmings spend winter underground in complex tunnel systems.

Many birds escape the bitter winters by migrating south.

They return to the nest and raise young during the bountiful summer months.

How Have Humans Impacted the Tundra?

Global warming is drastically impacting the fragile tundra biome.

Rising temperatures are melting layers of permafrost that have remained frozen for thousands of years.

This is radically changing the landscape and ecology of the region.

Additionally, human activities are polluting and degrading tundra ecosystems.

Mining projects leach toxins into the soil that damage plant life.

Oil and gas drilling disturbs land and wildlife.

Overgrazing by introduced species like reindeer stresses native vegetation not adapted to intensive grazing pressure.

Illegal hunting of rare predators alters the natural balance.

As climate change continues to raise temperatures, the range of the tundra biome is expected to decline.

Unique tundra habitats may disappear and biodiversity will suffer.

These inhospitable conditions make the tundra a challenging yet fascinating biome.

Hardy plants and animals display remarkable adaptations to survive in an environment characterized by low temperatures and low humidity.

The tundra truly represents a unique ecosystem at the extremes of our planet.

Which Environment Is Characterized by High Temperatures and Low Humidity?

Deserts are characterized by high temperatures and low humidity.

Deserts are found throughout the world, mostly in sub-tropical locations in Africa, Australia, Asia, and the Americas.

They are defined by scarce rainfall, extreme diurnal temperature fluctuations, and low humidity.

Daytime temperatures frequently exceed 100°F, but at night the desert cools due to minimal cloud cover and low atmospheric moisture.

The Sahara Desert averages highs around 104°F but can drop to 55°F at night.

Annual rainfall is less than 10 inches per year.

The combination of cloudless skies, intense heat, and a lack of precipitation results in extremely low relative humidity down to 5-10%.

Evaporation exceeds precipitation, contributing to the desert’s dryness.

Of all the world’s biomes, deserts like the Sahara have some of the hottest temperatures and lowest humidity.

Where Is the Least Humid Place on Earth?

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is considered the least humid place on Earth.

The Atacama holds the record for the longest dry period, with some weather stations recording zero rainfall over several decades.

Humidity averages around 12%, but can drop below 1% during the day.

This exceptionally low humidity is due to the Atacama’s location between the Chilean Coast Range and the Andes Mountains.

These geographic barriers prevent moisture from oceans and rainforests from reaching the desert’s center.

The lack of vegetation and precipitation makes the Atacama the world’s driest non-polar desert.

The combination of year-round sunny skies, high temperatures, hyper-aridity, and geographic isolation gives the Atacama Desert the lowest humidity measurements on the planet.

Which Is Associated with Low Humidity?

Low humidity is associated with dry air or air with low moisture content.

The amount of water vapor in a volume of air determines the absolute humidity.

Relative humidity compares the actual moisture content to the potential moisture capacity at a given temperature.

Cold air has a reduced capacity to hold moisture compared to warm air.

Therefore, low temperatures are associated with low relative humidity.

Even when moisture is present, cold air prevents it from accumulating to high relative humidity.

This is evident in environments like the tundra and arctic regions.

The cold, dry air prevents moisture from reaching high relative humidity.

Other factors like wind, precipitation, cloud cover, and geographic barriers can also limit moisture and result in low humidity.

But the prime factor connected to low humidity is the low air temperature and its reduced capacity to retain water vapor.

Key Takeaways:

  • The tundra is the environment with the lowest temperatures and humidity on Earth.
  • This harsh Arctic and Antarctic biome provides a fascinating example of how some lifeforms can evolve to handle even the most extreme conditions.
  • The adaptations of tundra species serve as a testament to the remarkable diversity of life on our planet.


What Is Permafrost?

Permafrost refers to the ground that remains frozen year-round. In the tundra, the permafrost can extend 4,900 feet below the surface. This prevents heat absorption and drainage.

How Do Tundra Plants Survive?

Tundra plants stay low to the ground in dense clumps. They develop shallow roots in the thin active layer. Hardy species like lichen and moss thrive despite harsh conditions.

What Adaptations Help Arctic Animals?

Thick fur, hibernation, migration, and hunting allow animals like foxes, lemmings, and birds to survive in the tundra.

How Does Low Humidity Impact the Tundra?

The cold air has a reduced capacity to hold moisture. Even when present, the frigid temperatures prevent humidity from accumulating.

GreenChiCafe is passionate about our fragile environment and the wonders of the natural world.

Check out our website for more content on amazing biomes like the tundra.

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