Global climate classification and vegetation relationships
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Global Climate Classification and Vegetation Relationships. Weather vs. Climate. Weather short-term condition of the atmosphere days, weeks meteorologists Climate long-term (30 year) average of weather conditions and extremes climatologists. Climate Determinants.

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Global climate classification and vegetation relationships l.jpg

Global Climate Classification and Vegetation Relationships

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Weather vs. Climate

  • Weather

    • short-term condition of the atmosphere

    • days, weeks

    • meteorologists

  • Climate

    • long-term (30 year) average of weather conditions and extremes

    • climatologists

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Climate Determinants

  • Insolation and Temperature

    • latitude, altitude, land-water, ocean currents, mountain barriers

  • Precipitation

    • Air pressure (ITCZ and Subtropical Highs)

    • Air mass influences

    • Prevailing winds

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The Köppen Climate Classification

  • A Tropical (equatorial regions)

  • B Deserts (arid, semiarid)

  • C Mesothermal (mild winter)

  • D Microthermal (boreal, cold winter))

  • E Polar (always cold)

  • H Highland (mountains, plateaus)

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The Köppen Climate Classification

3 letter system

First letter = temperature

Second letter = precipitation

Third letter = finer shades of temp

Csb = mediterranean

C = middle latitude temps

s = summer dry

b = warm summers (as opposed to hot [a])

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Tropical Climates (A)

  • 1/3 of Earth’s total surface (about 20 ºN to 20 ºS)

  • Consistently warm (all months > 18ºC/64.4 ºF)

  • Daily temp range exceeds annual temp range

  • Subcategories based on rainfall (ITCZ influence)

  • Subcategories based on rainfall distribution:

  • Tropical rainforest (Af)

  • Tropical savanna (Aw)

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Tropical Rainforest (Af)

  • High rainfall all year (>2” / month)

  • Warm every month

  • Precipitation exceeds evaporation.

  • Straddles Equator by 5o - 10o

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Tropical Rainforest (Af)

  • Vegetation : Highest average biomass on earth. Highest biodiversity on earth!Thousands of species, tall trees, many canopy layers, evergreen, broadleaf trees, epiphytes, lianas (vines), climbers, stranglers, ferns

  • Fauna:More species than all other biomes combined!, colorful insects, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, few large animals, high density of biomass and incredible species diversity

  • Other: Among most threatened biomes

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    Deforestation, Malaysia

    Strangler Fig

    3-Toed Sloth, Panama

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    Savanna (Aw) – Tropical Grassland Climates

    • The tropical wet and dry or savanna (Aw) has an extended dry season during winter.

    • Region/Distribution: Subequatorial Africa, and South America, Southern India (25° N and S Latitude)

    • Vegetation: Continuous cover of grasses, scattered trees or shrubs

    • Other: Susceptible to desertification

    Masai Reserve, Kenya

    Acacia and Wildebeest Serengeti Plain, Tanzania

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    Dry / Semiarid Climates (B)

    • Occupy about 1/3 of Earth’s land area (Most extensive climate over land surface)

    • Evaporation exceeds precipitation (water deficit)

    • Subcategories

      • Desert (BW)

      • Steppe (BS)

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    • Temperature:

    • Widest range: up to 100oF/day!

    • Hot at low latitudes, wide variation at higher latitudes

    Deserts (BW):

    • Precipitation:

    • Scarce: <10 inches/year

    • Unreliable: wide variation from average

    • Intense: convective downpours

    • Desert Causation:

    • High Pressure Cells and resultant stability

    • Rainshadows

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    True Deserts (BW)

    • Vegetation: Widely scattered thorny bushes, cacti, small flowers, extensive shallow roots or long tap roots, shrubs, succulents

    • Fauna: Many rodents, lizards, toads, snakes and other reptiles, many birds, owls, vultures, many insects (adaptive strategies)

    • Other: Deserts cover roughly 1/3 of earth. May be growing due to desertification.

    • Steppe: semi-arid high elevation or high latitude

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    Desert Plant Survival Strategies

    • schlerophyllousadaptations - small, waxy leaves or thorns replace leaves

    • succulents - stems modified to spongy water storage structures

    • ephemerals(obligate seeders) - fast reproductive cycle

    • wide spacing with shallow roots - collect sparse rainfall

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    Organ Pipe CactusOrgan Pipe National Monument, Arizona

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    Steppe (BS): temperate grasslands

    • more precipitation than BW

    • narrower temperature ranges

    • grasslands

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    Temperate Grassland/Steppe (BS)

    • Region/Distribution: Central North America, parts of Africa, Australia, SE South America (Pampas)

    • Soil: very fertile soils, best on earth

    • Vegetation: Grass tall to short prairie, pampas, steppe. Sod forming grasses, Sparse bushes, occasional trees in some areas

    • Fauna: large grazing animals, bison, antelope, wild horses, kangaroos, giraffes, burrowing animals: rabbits, prairies dogs…; predators: coyotes, lions, leopards…...

    • Other: Most N. American grasslands have been converted to agricultural fields. Wild grazers replaced by cattle, sheep, goats. Less than 1% of original grasses left.

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    Mesothermal Climates/Temperate (C)

    • True seasonality (air mass conflict)

    • Subdivisions based on precipitation variation

      • Humid Subtropical (Cfa)

      • Mediterranean (Cs)

    Humid Subtropical

    Broad-leaf Deciduous Forest Allegheny Mtns., Pennsylvania

    Mediterranean Coastal Sage ScrublandChannel Islands N.P., California

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    Subtropical Forest Sarasota, Florida

    Mesothermal Climates (C)

    Humid Subtropical (Cfa)Mediterranean (Cs)

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    Humid SubtropicalMidlatitude Forests

    • Hot summer, substantial year-round precipitation

    • Low latitude east coasts (warm currents).

    • Summer max precipitation.

    • Cold spells; seasonality.

    Cfa - New Orleans, LA

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    Temperate Broad-leafed Forest (Deciduous)

    • Region/Distribution: Western Europe, East Asia, Eastern U.S.. Between 30-50° north or south

    • Soil: brown soils, good for agriculture

    • Vegetation: Broad-leafed deciduous trees, (120-150’ tall), oaks, hickories, maples, …

    • Fauna: mammals such as white tail deer, porcupines, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, most carnivores eliminated by hunting i.e. wolf, mountain lion, bobcat; many birds; frogs and salamanders, snakes

    • Other: Plants and animals well adapted to seasonality including hibernation, migration

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    • Dry summers (shifting subtropical highs)

    • Surrounds Mediterranean

    • Also on west coasts near 30o N and S (Australia, S. Africa, Chile)

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    • Region/Distribution: West coast and Central California, SW. Australia, tip of S. Africa, West Peru. Chile, Mediterranean (good wine places!)

    • Vegetation: Scrubland, scattered trees (oaks, eucalyptus), grasses. Fire tolerant, sclerophyllous (hard-leafed) evergreens, chaparral (scrubby evergreen)

    • Fauna: Burrowers like ground squirrels, gophers; deer, mountain lions, coyotes, many birds

    • Other: Susceptible to fire during dry season, some species need fire to regenerate; susceptible to erosion and desertification, development; threatened biome

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    Microthermal Climates (D)

    Only found in Northern Hemisphere

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    Subarctic Climates (Boreal or Taiga)

    • 50o-70o N latitude

    • long, bitterly cold winters

    • highest annual temp range: up to 100O F

    • Great annual temperature ranges (continentality, air mass conflicts)

    Dw – Calgary, Canada

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    Coniferous (Boreal) Forest – Koppen D

    • Region/Distribution: Northern parts of North America, Europe and Asia, South So. America, much of Russia

    • Vegetation: Coniferous (mostly evergreen) forest, ex. Spruce, Fir, Pine, Larch, needle-leaved

    • Fauna: Large herbivores: moose, elk; small herbivores: squirrels snowshoe hare, beaver; Predators: wolves, foxes, bears, lynx, weasel family; Mosquitoes in summer

    • Other: Acid rain, logging , oil drilling, hunting of predators

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    Fir Trees, Alaska

    Spruce Needles

    British Columbia

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    Polar Climates (E)- all months < 50OF

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    Polar Climates (E)- all months < 50OF

    • Tundra (ET)

      • warmest month 32-50F

    • Ice caps (EF)

      • warmest month below 32F

    • Both have very low precipitation

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    TundraRegion/Distribution:North of the Boreal Forest, high latitudes of northern hemisphere in a belt around the Arctic Ocean, near the coast Soil: Permafrost, no true soil development Vegetation: Low growing lichens, mosses, grasses, sedges, dwarf shrubs, small plants typically ground hugging or warmth preserving in some wayFauna: Small burrowing mammals, lemmings, also foxes, lynx, owls, grizzly bear, caribou and musk ox: migrants Other: many insects in summer, standing water

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    Highland Climates (H)

    How are these like the poles? How different?

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    Highland Climates (H)

    How are these like the polar regions? How are they different?

    • Lower temperatures

    • More moisture available

    • More insolation

    • High winds in both

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    Koppen Cfa - Sydney, Australia Elev: 62 ft    Lat: 33 52' S    Long: 151 02' E

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    Koppen Csb - Santiago, Chile

    Elev: 1706 ft    Lat: 33 27' S    Long: 70 42'W


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    Koppen BW - Phoenix, AZ Elev: 337.4 m    Lat: 33 26'N    Long: 112 00'W

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    Koppen Aw - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Elev: 61.3 m    Lat: 22 55' S    Long: 43 12'W

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    The Köppen Climate Classification

    • A Tropical (equatorial regions)

    • B Deserts (arid, semiarid)

    • C Mesothermal (mild winter)

    • D Microthermal (boreal, cold winter)

    • E Polar (always cold)

    • H Highland (mountains, plateaus)

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    The Köppen Climate Classification

    • A Tropical (equatorial regions)

    • B Deserts (arid, semiarid)

    • C Mesothermal (mild winter)

    • D Microthermal (boreal, cold winter)

    • E Polar (always cold)

    • H Highland (mountains, plateaus)

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    Riparian Vegetation

    • Vegetation that grows along water courses.

    • Often supports richer diversity of plant and animal life, including more hardwood trees in a dry environment.

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    Vegetation Succession

    Climax Stage

    Pioneer Stage

    Occurs after disturbances: fires, storms, landslides, etc.

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    • California Invasive Species: Old World Grape, livestock, Eucalyptus (Gum Trees), wild hog, mustards, horse, Mediterranean grasses/mustards

    • Methods of Transfer

      • Domesticated animals (fur, droppings)

      • Ornamentals

      • International tourism/migrations (New Zealand)

    • Problems with Invasives

      • Often out-compete native species.

      • Don’t provide habitat for local fauna.

      • Upset balance of ecosystem.

    Ecological Invasions

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    The American Chestnut

    100 feet tall, thick symmetrical branches, over an acre of greenery, about a million lush leaves in all. Massive quantities of protein-rich nuts.

    In 1904 a handful of Asian chestnut trees were planted in New York City at the Bronx Zoo. An Asian chestnut blight quickly destroyed over 99.99 percent of the American Chestnut population - almost all of four billion trees - annihilating at least six specialized insect species, decimating wild turkey populations, and depriving humans of a priceless resource in a single generation.

    This loss represented one fourth of the tree cover in the Appalachians!