Tundra vs Desert
Tundra and desert are two biomes that are characterized by very little precipitation. While tundra is a very cold region, which is covered with snow all round the year, a desert is a biome characterized by high temperatures and one can see heat waves rising up in the air. It is all sandy with little or no vegetation just like tundra. So while, these biomes are similar in the sense that both receive very little rainfall, they are different as far as climate is concerned with a tundra being extremely cold while assert is extremely hot. However, differences between the two biomes are not limited to their climates alone as will be clear after reading this article.
Tundra is a very cold, icy, windy and dry region near the polar ice caps that include parts of Russia, Scandinavia, Alaska, Canada, Iceland, and Greenland. Tundra of the world is mostly located in the northern hemisphere while the regions that should be tundra in the southern hemisphere are actually oceans. The ground is very hard and covered always with ice making it impossible for life forms to survive in tundra. Very few organisms are found in tundra, which means that there is a lack of biodiversity, making this ecosystem fragile and become unstable, if there is any disturbance.
In tundra, there is less than 25 cm of precipitation and the temperature rarely goes up to 10 degree Celsius. There is a top layer or active zone of soil that thaws during summers, allowing growth of vegetation in the form of grasses, mosses and some other plants. This top layer is just 8 cm deep, and below this active zone, the soil is always frozen that never allows any vegetation similar to other eco systems. Even whatever precipitation takes place, cannot permeate this solid ice called permafrost below the active zone. Plants that grow in tundra are small and remain close to the ground. There are few predators in tundra making it a safe place for migratory birds to lay eggs and then to raise little birds. There are no reptiles in tundra.
The regions on earth where annual precipitation is less than 50 cm classify as deserts. 20% of the earth’s surface is covered with deserts. Deserts are mostly found in low altitude (example Sahara and those in Mexico) though there are many found at high altitude such as those in West Asia, Utah and Nevada in US. Deserts have special vegetation and abundance of animals, especially reptiles. Deserts have a fertile soil that supports vegetation. It only needs some rainfall to produce plants and trees. Because of the paucity of water, large mammals are not found in deserts. These animals do not get shelter from the scorching heat of the sun. Because of this, reptiles are most common in deserts. Some mammals that are found in deserts tend to be small ones.
There are hot deserts, but there are also cold deserts that have snow in winters, making it difficult for plants to grow. While hot and dry deserts are found near the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, cold deserts are located around the Arctic.
What is the difference between Tundra and Desert?
• While tundra region is closer to South Pole and extremely cold and dry, deserts are close to Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Deserts can be either hot and dry or cold and arid.
• There are differences in vegetation and animals in tundra and desert biomes.
• While mosses and grasses are supported by the top layer that thaws in summers in tundra, cactuses are found mostly in deserts.
• There are no reptiles in tundra while deserts are known for reptiles.