It surprises many people to find
out that getting enough water can be a challenge for plants and animals on
the alpine tundra.
Yes, snow is a prominent feature
of the tundra, and a lot of snow can fall above timberline every winter. However,
plants cannot use the frozen snow for growth!
Plus, lots of the snow blows away
before it melts. Then, water from the remaining melting snow quickly drains
away from steep rocky mountain slopes leaving dry conditions behind. Intense
sunlight and wind also contribute to the dry nature of alpine tundra.
However, you will find some wet
areas in the alpine tundra. These areas are so marshy that most plants would
die, so the ones there have their own adaptations to deal with the soggy conditions.
Still, most of the alpine tundra
plants and animals have adapted to dry conditions.
Look for ways that plants and
animals have adapted to water shortages above treeline on the alpine tundra.