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Quick Looks

ancient ruins at chichen itza were covered by tropical rainforest Biomes are unique situations. They are very specialized ecosystems that only exist in certain parts of the world. They are ecosystems that are defined by their environments. Factors like temperature, rainfall, and altitude all decide what type of life a biome can support. While you're here, take a walk through a few different biomes.

Hot and Wet

Tropical rain forests are warm and humid. Standing on the ground, you can look up and see a huge canopy of leaves above you. The trees are very tall, some fifty feet high. Even though the Sun is shining, you still walk around in the shade. As you walk through this biome, you see loads of different living creatures. There are lots of birds, some tiny mammals, but most of all insects. Wow! There are bugs everywhere. They crawl, fly, and jump all around you. As you continue walking, you notice all of the dead leaves on the ground. Every now and then a leaf falls from above and adds to the pile.

death valley is one of the hottest places on earth

Dry and Hot

Imagine you are now in the desert. It's not just hot; it's incredibly hot and dry here. Your lips are chapped and you are very thirsty. The ground is all cracked and it may have been over a year since it rained. You see cacti (if it's one it's a cactus) and a bird every now and then. There are no trees at all. There are a few dried up bushes and a couple of insects on the ground. After the Sun goes down you notice all sorts of animals coming out of the ground. When it cools off, the burrowing animals come out to hunt the bugs. It's just too hot during the day.

Cold and Colder

Life in the tundra is just as hard as life in the desert. You usually find tundra biomes in the far north. If you came in the winter, it would be dark all of the time. In the summer, the Sun barely sets. Even with all the light there is still very little life. You see a lot of lichen and mosses on the rocks, if you can even see the rocks under the snow. There are no trees. It wouldn't matter anyway; the roots couldn't go deep because the soil is frozen (a state called permafrost).

Rainforests Exploring Rainforests in the Classroom
NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites use remote sensors to provide an overall look at Earth's plant-covered surfaces. (NASA/KSC)
- View Video (Real)

The Arctic Ice Sheets in 3-D
Thanks to NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation satellite, or ICESat, scientists are learning even more how Earth is affected by changing climates. (NASA/KSC)
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View 360 degree panoramas of land biomes
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