Latitude and Altitude
We know that climate tends to
get cooler as we move away from the equator toward the poles.
As the planet curves, the sun's
rays cover more ground, and the sun's heat is diluted. See
how the beam spreads over the slanting roof.
At the equator, the sun's rays
meet the planet straight on, like hitting the side of a house.
The heat is more concentrated here.
the climate changes, the biomes change, too.
However, there is another way to experience climate
change than going on a trip to the north or south.
Temperatures also change with changes in altitude.
The temperature of the atmosphere
drops three degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet in elevation
This is why people go to the
mountains in the summer: they are looking for cooler temperatures.
In this picture below, we see
examples of temperature and biome change.
We are pretty close to the equator
here. Where the ocean meets the land there is heavy rain, and
a beautiful tropical rain forest covers the ground.
Next comes an area where the
tropical rain forest blends into the deciduous forest. As we
go up the mountain the vegetation types blend into each other,
and before too long we are in a typical deciduous forest with
trees that we would expect to see farther north.
As the elevation continues to
rise, the deciduous forest gives way to an evergreen coniferous
forest. Here we find trees and bushes that we would normally
see much farther north. These trees gradually become shorter
and are spaced farther apart as the forest gives way to a grassy
alpine biome. Here marmots whistle among the grasses and wild
Eventually, grass gives way
to rocks, stones, and snow. The wind is cold up here, and we
are feeling the lack of oxygen in the thin air.
I hope that the people in the
balloon have some oxygen with them, or else are planning to come
down soon. They are up where it is cold and hard to breathe!
It is because of this change
of temperature with altitude that high mountains are snow-capped
even at the equator.
© Elizabeth Anne Viau, 1999.
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