***To readers: Please excuse the length of this article; there was substantially less information about the polar desert than the other biomes.
Polar deserts are located in Arctic regions of the world.
Unlike the hot and dry desert, winter usually brings snow, not a few drops of rain. However, some of the same animals that live in the hot and dry desert can be found in the polar desert, and many of them are burrowing animals. They burrow in the polar desert to keep warm, in this case, not to keep cool.
The polar desert soil is not nutrient-rich, much like its counterpart the hot and dry desert. In fact, the polar desert had mildly acidic soil. This prevents many tall plants from growing. Because of the lack of nutrients, the only plants that survive and strive in the polar desert are low to the ground.
The polar desert is characterized by very cold winters with snowfall in place of rain. Polar desert winters are very long and cold. The extremely short summers feature relatively warm and moist weather. One could expect the winter temperature to be around 25 degrees Fahrenheit and summers to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters receive a substantial amount of snow; precipitation is on average, approximately 25 cm.
Below is a climograph of a polar desert. A climograph shows both the precipitation and the average temperature of the biome. The small blue bars represent precipitation while the line graph represents the temperature in different months.
Plants and Animals
1) Arctic Willow
The arctic willow grows to be, at most, 20 cm in height. Their leaves are oval-shaped with a pointed end and are a light green to dark green in color. The arctic will has a very shallow root depth which makes it very vulnerable to root damage, however. Due to its location and its structure, the arctic willow has a very short growing season and doe not live o be very old.
2) Arctic Poppy
The arctic poppy can grow to be about 15 cm in height. Apart from its delicate flower, the poppy is a very strong plant. The plant itself is covered in many black “hairs”. Even with its defenses to the harsh polar desert environment, the arctic poppy is not a very common flower.
3) Arctic Hare
The arctic hare grows to weigh (at most) 15 pounds and 27 inches in height. Their coat is susceptible to changing with the season. In the winter, the arctic hare’s coat is usually white, while in the summer, the arctic hare’s coat turns a spotty white and brown coat. Their diet consists of mainly shrubs, grasses, and flowering plants.
To survive in the polar desert biome, many plants are very small. They oft feature very small leaves and shallow root system to absorb as much nutrients from the thin layer of soil that they can. In addition, small leaves reduce the amount of water lost through the leaf surface. Plants also tend to grow close to one another to conserve heat and to help them survive the heavy winds in the polar desert environment. To adapt to the cold temperatures, many animals in the polar desert biome have two coats of fur. More commonly, though, is the use of hibernation. Hibernation is the conserving of energy until warmer temperatures come.