Alpine Tundra

July 23, 2019


Photographer: Peter Claussen 
Summary Authors: Peter Claussen; Stu Witmer

The first thing you notice about the tundra is the emptiness. The word tundra is from the Sami language meaning "barren land." Permafrost is another defining condition. Because of this, not many trees can grow. Grass, moss, lichens dominate the frozen ground with their short root systems. There are three kinds of tundra: Arctic and Antarctic tundra and also Alpine tundra, as shown on the photo above, taken in Rocky Mountain National Park (near Trail Ridge Road) in Colorado. All together, tundra regions cover about one-fifth of the Earth's land surface.

The Colorado tundra summer is only a few weeks long and allows for the growth of some, mostly perennials some of which take at least a couple of years to bud. Here you'll find many birds along with mountain goats and marmots. Non-polar tundra can be found in high mountainous areas (above the treeline) across the globe, including the Sierra Nevada of the western U.S., the Cascades, Andes, Pyrenees, Alps, Himalayas and the Rift Mountains of Africa. Photo taken on July 4, 2019.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D850; Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic 7.5 (Windows); Exposure Time: 0.033s (1/30); Aperture: ƒ/13.0; ISO equivalent: 64; Focal Length (35mm): 14.