The different types of land are known as biomes. These are divided into four classifications: desert, forest, grassland and tundra. Land biomes are typically defined by the type of vegetation they possess, the types of animals that inhabit them and their climate, such as rainfall and temperature. Biomes in the same classification usually share the same latitude and longitude because they share similar characteristics. Within each biome there are subcategories, although each land type falls into one of the four major classifications.
Tundra is a wide-open space of land that is the coldest of the biomes. The University of California's Museum of Paleontology has noted that tundras are known for "frost-molded landscapes, extremely low temperatures, little precipitation, poor nutrients and short growing seasons." This makes a tundra a very difficult place to live in due to its harsh weather conditions and poor food supplies. Arctic and alpine are the two types of tundras on earth. Alpine tundra refers to tundra located above the treeline, although it can have sparse vegetation of other kinds. Arctic tundras do have vegetation and can sometimes have rainfall.
Deserts fall into two categories: hot/dry and cold. Hot/dry deserts have sparse vegetation, and only animals that can adapt to living in extremely hot temperatures with minimal water can survive there. Most animals in a hot/dry desert must burrow to escape the tremendous heat, which can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime. In cold desert climates, the temperatures are much cooler. Animals that live there must burrow to keep warm. Unlike hot/dry deserts, cold deserts have precipitation in the form of snow or rain. Temperatures drop to the low 30s (Fahrenheit) in the winter.
Grasslands are a type of land that has a number of different climates, animals and vegetation, depending on where in the world they are found. Grasslands are found on every continent except Antarctica and are usually located toward the interior of their continents. Grasslands contain trees, various types of grasses, flowers and herbs. Another name for grasslands is prairies. There are two types of grasslands: tall grass and short grass. Tall grasslands are typically humid and wet, while short grasslands are dry and hot.
According to the University of California's Museum of Paleontology, "forests occupy approximately one-third of Earth's land area, account for over two-thirds of the leaf area of land plants, and contain about 70 percent of the carbon present in living things." There are three categories of forest, classified by their longitude: tropical, temperate and boreal. Tropical forests have two seasons: dry and rainy. Temperate forests have four distinct seasons and even, yearlong precipitation. Boreal forests are the largest of the earth's biomes, known for low temperatures, thin soil and a lot of snow.
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Alicia Purdy is a freelance writer and editor living in Utah. She has a master's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in broadcast communications.