Alpine climate

Alpine climate is the average weather (climate) for the regions above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as a mountain climate or highland climate.

White Mountain CA
White Mountain, an alpine environment at 4,300 metres (14,000 ft) in California, USA.

Definition

There are multiple definitions of alpine climate.

One simple definition is the climate which causes trees to fail to grow due to cold. According to the Holdridge life zone system, alpine climate occurs when the mean biotemperature of a location is between 1.5 and 3 °C (34.7 and 37.4 °F), which prevents tree growth. Biotemperature is defined as the mean temperature, except all temperatures below 0 °C (32 °F) are treated as 0 °C (32 °F), because plants are dormant below freezing.[1]

In the Köppen climate classification, the alpine climate is part of "Group E", along with the polar climate, where no month has a mean temperature higher than 10 °C (50 °F).[2]

Cause

The temperature profile of the atmosphere is a result of an interaction between radiation and convection. Sunlight in the visible spectrum hits the ground and heats it. The ground then heats the air at the surface. If radiation were the only way to transfer heat from the ground to space, the greenhouse effect of gases in the atmosphere would keep the ground at roughly 333 K (60 °C; 140 °F), and the temperature would decay exponentially with height.[3]

However, when air is hot, it tends to expand, which lowers its density. Thus, hot air tends to rise and transfer heat upward. This is the process of convection. Convection comes to equilibrium when a parcel of air at a given altitude has the same density as its surroundings. Air is a poor conductor of heat, so a parcel of air will rise and fall without exchanging heat. This is known as an adiabatic process, which has a characteristic pressure-temperature curve. As the pressure gets lower, the temperature decreases. The rate of decrease of temperature with elevation is known as the adiabatic lapse rate, which is approximately 9.8 °C per kilometer (or 5.4 °F per 1000 feet) of altitude.[3]

Note that the presence of water in the atmosphere complicates the process of convection. Water vapor contains latent heat of vaporization. As air rises and cools, it eventually becomes saturated and cannot hold its quantity of water vapor. The water vapor condenses (forming clouds), and releases heat, which changes the lapse rate from the dry adiabatic lapse rate to the moist adiabatic lapse rate (5.5 °C per kilometre or 3 °F per 1000 feet).[4] The actual lapse rate, called the environmental lapse rate, is not constant (it can fluctuate throughout the day or seasonally and also regionally), but a normal lapse rate is 5.5 °C per 1,000 m (3.57 °F per 1,000 ft).[5][6] Therefore, moving up 100 metres (330 ft) on a mountain is roughly equivalent to moving 80 kilometres (45 miles or 0.75° of latitude) towards the pole.[7] This relationship is only approximate, however, since local factors, such as proximity to oceans, can drastically modify the climate.[8] As the altitude increases, the main form of precipitation becomes snow and the winds increase. The temperature continues to drop until the tropopause, at 11,000 metres (36,000 ft), where it does not decrease further. However, this is higher than the highest summit.

Distribution

Although this climate classification only covers a small portion of the Earth's surface, alpine climates are widely distributed. For example, The Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, and the summit of Mauna Loa in the United States, the Alps, the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt, the Snowy Mountains in Australia, the Pyrenees, Cantabrian Mountains and Sierra Nevada in Spain, the Andes, the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau, Gansu, and Qinghai in China, the Eastern Highlands of Africa, high elevations in the Atlas Mountains and the central parts of Borneo and New Guinea.

The lowest altitude of alpine climate varies dramatically by latitude. If alpine climate is defined by the tree line, then it occurs as low as 650 metres (2,130 ft) at 68°N in Sweden,[9] while on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, the alpine climate and the tree line are met at 3,950 metres (12,960 ft).[9]

Monthly variability

The variability of the alpine climate throughout the year depends on the latitude of the location. For tropical oceanic locations, such as the summit of Mauna Loa, elev. 13,679 ft (4,169 m), the temperature is roughly constant throughout the year:

Climate data for Mauna Loa slope observatory (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 67
(19)
85
(29)
65
(18)
67
(19)
68
(20)
71
(22)
70
(21)
68
(20)
67
(19)
66
(19)
65
(18)
67
(19)
85
(29)
Average high °F (°C) 49.8
(9.9)
49.6
(9.8)
50.2
(10.1)
51.8
(11.0)
53.9
(12.2)
57.2
(14.0)
56.4
(13.6)
56.3
(13.5)
55.8
(13.2)
54.7
(12.6)
52.6
(11.4)
50.6
(10.3)
53.2
(11.8)
Average low °F (°C) 33.3
(0.7)
32.9
(0.5)
33.2
(0.7)
34.6
(1.4)
36.6
(2.6)
39.4
(4.1)
38.8
(3.8)
38.9
(3.8)
38.5
(3.6)
37.8
(3.2)
36.2
(2.3)
34.3
(1.3)
36.2
(2.3)
Record low °F (°C) 19
(−7)
18
(−8)
20
(−7)
24
(−4)
27
(−3)
28
(−2)
26
(−3)
28
(−2)
29
(−2)
27
(−3)
25
(−4)
22
(−6)
18
(−8)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.3
(58)
1.5
(38)
1.7
(43)
1.3
(33)
1.0
(25)
0.5
(13)
1.1
(28)
1.5
(38)
1.3
(33)
1.1
(28)
1.7
(43)
2.0
(51)
17
(431)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.0
(0.0)
1.0
(2.5)
0.3
(0.76)
1.3
(3.3)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
1.0
(2.5)
3.6
(9.06)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 4 5 6 5 4 3 4 5 5 5 5 4 55
Source: NOAA[10]

For mid-latitude locations, such as Mount Washington the temperature varies, but never gets very warm:

Climate data for Mount Washington, elev. 6,267 ft (1,910.2 m) near the summit
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 48
(9)
43
(6)
54
(12)
60
(16)
66
(19)
72
(22)
71
(22)
72
(22)
69
(21)
62
(17)
52
(11)
47
(8)
72
(22)
Average high °F (°C) 13.6
(−10.2)
14.7
(−9.6)
20.7
(−6.3)
30.4
(−0.9)
41.3
(5.2)
50.4
(10.2)
54.1
(12.3)
53.3
(11.8)
47.1
(8.4)
36.4
(2.4)
28.1
(−2.2)
18.4
(−7.6)
34.0
(1.1)
Daily mean °F (°C) 4.8
(−15.1)
6.2
(−14.3)
12.9
(−10.6)
23.9
(−4.5)
35.6
(2.0)
45.0
(7.2)
49.1
(9.5)
48.2
(9.0)
41.6
(5.3)
30.2
(−1.0)
20.7
(−6.3)
10.1
(−12.2)
27.4
(−2.6)
Average low °F (°C) −4.1
(−20.1)
−2.4
(−19.1)
5.0
(−15.0)
17.4
(−8.1)
29.8
(−1.2)
39.5
(4.2)
44.0
(6.7)
43.0
(6.1)
36.1
(2.3)
24.0
(−4.4)
13.3
(−10.4)
1.7
(−16.8)
20.6
(−6.3)
Record low °F (°C) −47
(−44)
−46
(−43)
−38
(−39)
−20
(−29)
−2
(−19)
8
(−13)
24
(−4)
20
(−7)
9
(−13)
−5
(−21)
−20
(−29)
−46
(−43)
−47
(−44)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 6.44
(164)
6.77
(172)
7.67
(195)
7.44
(189)
8.18
(208)
8.40
(213)
8.77
(223)
8.32
(211)
8.03
(204)
9.27
(235)
9.85
(250)
7.73
(196)
96.87
(2,460)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 44.0
(112)
40.1
(102)
45.1
(115)
35.6
(90)
12.2
(31)
1.0
(2.5)
0.0
(0.0)
0.1
(0.25)
2.2
(5.6)
17.6
(45)
37.8
(96)
45.5
(116)
281.2
(714)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 19.7 17.9 19.0 17.4 17.4 16.8 16.5 15.2 13.9 16.8 19.1 20.7 210.4
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 19.3 17.3 16.6 13.1 6.4 0.9 0.1 0.2 1.7 9.1 14.6 19.2 118.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 92.0 106.9 127.6 143.2 171.3 151.3 145.0 130.5 127.2 127.1 82.4 83.1 1,487.6
Percent possible sunshine 32 36 34 35 37 33 31 30 34 37 29 30 33
Source #1: NOAA (normals 1981–2010, sun 1961–1990)[11][12][13]
Source #2: extremes 1933–present[14][15]

See also

References

  1. ^ Lugo, A. E. (1999). "The Holdridge life zones of the conterminous United States in relation to ecosystem mapping". Journal of Biogeography. 26 (5): 1025–1038. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2699.1999.00329.x. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  2. ^ McKnight, Tom L; Hess, Darrel (2000). "Climate Zones and Types: The Köppen System". Physical Geography: A Landscape Appreciation. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. pp. 235–7. ISBN 978-0-13-020263-5.
  3. ^ a b Goody, Richard M.; Walker, James C.G. (1972). "Atmospheric Temperatures" (PDF). Atmospheres. Prentice-Hall.
  4. ^ "Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate". tpub.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  5. ^ "Adiabatic lapse rate in atmospheric chemistry". Adiabatic Lapse Rate. Goldbook. IUPAC. 2009. doi:10.1351/goldbook.A00144. ISBN 978-0-9678550-9-7.
  6. ^ Dommasch, Daniel O. (1961). Airplane Aerodynamics (3rd ed.). Pitman Publishing Co. p. 22.
  7. ^ "Mountain Environments" (PDF). United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-25.
  8. ^ "Factors affecting climate". The United Kingdom Environmental Change Network. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
  9. ^ a b Körner, Ch (1998). "A re-assessment of high elevation treeline positions and their explanation" (PDF). Oecologia. 115 (4): 445–459. Bibcode:1998Oecol.115..445K. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.454.8501. doi:10.1007/s004420050540. PMID 28308263.
  10. ^ "Period of Record Monthly Climate Summary". MAUNA LOA SLOPE OBS, HAWAII. NOAA. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  11. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  12. ^ "Station Name: NH MT WASHINGTON". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  13. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for MOUNT WASHINGTON, NH 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Mount Washington Observatory: Normals, Means and Extreme". Mount Washington Observatory. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  15. ^ "Today's Weather atop Mount Washington". Mount Washington Observatory. 14 January 2013. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013.
Alpine lake

Alpine lakes are classified as lakes or reservoirs at high altitudes, usually starting around 5,000 feet (1524 metres) in elevation above sea level or above the tree line.Alpine lakes are usually clearer than lakes at lower elevations due to the colder water which decreases the speed and amount of algae and moss growth in the water. Often these lakes are surrounded by varieties of pine trees, aspens, and other high altitude trees.

Alpine plant

Alpine plants are plants that grow in an alpine climate, which occurs at high elevation and above the tree line. There are many different plant species and taxon that grow as a plant community in these alpine tundra. These include perennial grasses, sedges, forbs, cushion plants, mosses, and lichens. Alpine plants are adapted to the harsh conditions of the alpine environment, which include low temperatures, dryness, ultraviolet radiation, and a short growing season.

Some alpine plants serve as medicinal plants.

Alpine tundra

Alpine tundra is a type of natural region or biome that does not contain trees because it is at high elevation. As the latitude of a location approaches the poles, the threshold elevation for alpine tundra gets lower until it reaches sea level, and alpine tundra merges with polar tundra.

The high elevation causes an adverse climate, which is too cold and windy to support tree growth. Alpine tundra transitions to sub-alpine forests below the tree line; stunted forests occurring at the forest-tundra ecotone are known as Krummholz. With increasing elevation it ends at the snow line where snow and ice persist through summer.

Alpine tundra occurs in mountains worldwide. The flora of the alpine tundra is characterized by dwarf shrubs close to the ground. The cold climate of the alpine tundra is caused by adiabatic cooling of air, and is similar to polar climate.

Antennaria pulchella

Antennaria pulchella is a North American species of flowering plants in the daisy family known by the common names Sierra pussytoes and beautiful pussytoes. It is native primarily to high elevations in the Sierra Nevada from Nevada County to Tulare County, where it is a plant of the alpine climate. Additional populations occur on Lassen Peak in Lassen County, and also in Washoe County, Nevada.

Astragalus austiniae

Astragalus austiniae is a species of milkvetch known by the common name Austin's milkvetch. It is native to the Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe. It is a plant of the alpine climate of the high mountains, where it tolerates exposed areas.

Climate of Greece

The climate in Greece is predominantly Mediterranean. However, due to the country's unique geography, Greece has a remarkable range of micro-climates and local variations. To the west of the Pindus mountain range, the climate is generally wetter and has some maritime features. The east of the Pindus mountain range is generally drier and windier in summer. The highest peak is Mount Olympus, 2,918 metres (9,573 ft). The north areas of Greece have a transitional climate between the continental and the Mediterranean climate. There are mountainous areas that have an alpine climate.

Hardangervidda

Hardangervidda (English: Hardanger Plateau) is a mountain plateau (Norwegian: vidde) in central southern Norway, covering parts of the counties of Buskerud, Hordaland and Telemark. It is the largest plateau of its kind in Europe, with a cold year-round alpine climate, and one of Norway's largest glaciers, Hardangerjøkulen, is situated here. Much of the plateau is protected as part of Hardangervidda National Park. Hardangervidda is a popular tourist and leisure destination, and it is ideal for many outdoor activities.

Hidaka Mountains

Hidaka Mountains (日高山脈, Hidaka-sanmyaku) is a mountain range in southeastern Hokkaido, Japan. It runs 150 km from Mount Sahoro or Karikachi Pass in central Hokkaidō south, running into the sea at Cape Erimo. It consists of folded mountains that range from 1,500 to 2,000 metres in height. Mount Poroshiri is the highest at 2,053 m. The Hidaka Mountains separate the subprefectures of Hidaka and Tokachi. Most of the range lies in the Hidaka-sanmyaku Erimo Quasi-National Park (日高山脈襟裳国定公園, Hidaka-sanmyaku Erimo Kokutei-kōen). Since the mountain range lies so far north, the alpine climate zone lies at a lower altitude.

Hinterwald

The Hinterwald (German: Hinterwälder-Rind) is an old local breed of cattle from the Black Forest. There is a breed association in Germany and one in Switzerland. The scientific name is Bos primigenius f. taurus.The cows are small, only 115 to 125 centimetres (45 to 49 in) tall and weighing 380 to 480 kilograms (840 to 1,060 lb), making them the smallest breed of cattle still extant in Central Europe. The head is mostly white, the remainder of the coat being pied light yellow to dark red-brown. Having been bred to cope with extreme conditions, such as cold winters, steep pastures and a frugal diet, they are well adapted to the Alpine climate. They are used for both beef and milk production and are noted for their thriftiness, longevity and lack of calving difficulties.

These qualities have led to a significant rise in the number of Hinterwald cows in the Swiss Alps since the introduction of a breeding programme initiated by Pro Specie Rara, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of endangered domestic species. However, the breed is still endangered. The government of Baden-Württemberg pays husbandry bonuses to conserve it.

The breed was "Domestic Animal of the Year" in Germany in 1992.

Japanese Alps

The Japanese Alps (日本アルプス, Nihon Arupusu) is a series of mountain ranges in Japan which bisect the main island of Honshū (本州). The name was coined by English archaeologist William Gowland, and later popularized by Reverend Walter Weston (1861–1940), an English missionary for whom a memorial plaque is located at Kamikochi (上高地), a tourist destination known for its alpine climate. When Gowland coined the phrase, however, he was only referring to the Hida Mountains (飛騨山脈).

Juncus parryi

Juncus parryi is a species of rush known by the common name Parry's rush. It is native to western North America from British Columbia and Alberta to California to Colorado, where it grows in moist and dry spots in mountain habitat, including rocky talus and other areas in the subalpine and alpine climate. This is a rhizomatous perennial herb producing a dense clump of stems up to about 30 centimeters tall. There are short, thready leaves around the stem bases. The inflorescence is a cluster of flowers accompanied by a long, cylindrical bract which appears like an extension of the stem. The flower is made up of a few pointed, brown segments with membranous edges.

Kaghan Valley

Kaghan Valley (Urdu: وادی کاغان ‬‎) is an alpine-climate valley in Mansehra District of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. The tourists from across the country come to visit this place. The valley extends 155 kilometres (96 mi), rising from an elevation of 2,134 feet (650 m) to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 13,690 feet (4,170 m). Landslides caused by the devastating 2005 Kashmir earthquake closed the Kaghan Valley road and cut off the valley from the outside. The road has been rebuilt.

Klamath Basin

The Klamath Basin is the region in the U.S. states of Oregon and California drained by the Klamath River. It contains most of Klamath County and parts of Lake and Jackson counties in Oregon, and parts of Del Norte, Humboldt, Modoc, Siskiyou, and Trinity counties in California. The 15,751-square-mile (40,790 km2) drainage basin is 35% in Oregon and 65% in California. In Oregon, the watershed typically lies east of the Cascade Range, while California contains most of the river's segment that passes through the mountains. In the Oregon-far northern California segment of the river, the watershed is semi-desert at lower elevations and dry alpine in the upper elevations. In the western part of the basin, in California, however, the climate is more of temperate rainforest, and the Trinity River watershed consists of a more typical alpine climate.

Kosciuszko National Park

The Kosciuszko National Park is a 6,900-square-kilometre (2,700 sq mi) national park and contains mainland Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, for which it is named, and Cabramurra the highest town in Australia. Its borders contain a mix of rugged mountains and wilderness, characterised by an alpine climate, which makes it popular with recreational skiers and bushwalkers.

The park is located in the southeastern corner of New South Wales, 354 km (220 mi) southwest of Sydney, and is contiguous with the Alpine National Park in Victoria to the south, and the Namadgi National Park in the Australian Capital Territory to the northeast. The larger towns of Cooma, Tumut and Jindabyne lie just outside and service the park.

The waters of the Snowy River, the Murray River, and Gungarlin River all rise in this park. Other notable peaks in the park include Gungartan, Mount Jagungal, Bimberi Peak and Mount Townsend.

On 7 November 2008, the Park was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.

Micranthes aprica

Micranthes aprica is a species of flowering plant known by the common name Sierra saxifrage. It is native to the high mountains of California, including the Sierra Nevada and the southern Cascade Range, and adjacent slopes in southern Oregon and western Nevada. It grows in mountain habitat in areas of alpine climate, such as meadows and next to streams of snowmelt. It is a perennial herb which spends most of the year in a dormant state in order to save water, and rarely flowers. It produces a small gray-green basal rosette of toothed oval leaves up to about 4 centimeters long. When it does bloom, it sends up an erect inflorescence on a peduncle several centimeters tall topped with a cluster of flowers. Each flower has five sepals, five small white petals, and a clump of whiskery stamens at the center.

Nagqu Town

Nagqu Town, Nagchu in original Tibetan or Naqu (Chinese: 那曲; pinyin: Nàqū), also known as Nagchuka or Nagquka, is a town in northern Tibet, seat of Nagqu, approximately 328 km (204 mi) by road north-east of the capital Lhasa, within the People's Republic of China.

Nagqu railway station to the town's west sits on the Qingzang railway at 4,526 m (14,849 ft). "Ngachu (...) is an important stop on both the road and railway line between Qīnghǎi and Tibet. In fact, this is where Hwy 317 ends as it joins the Qīnghǎi–Tibet Hwy (Hwy 109) on its way to Lhasa."At the time of the visit in 1950 of Thubten Jigme Norbu, the elder brother of Tenzin Gyatso the 14th Dalai Lama, Nagchukha was a small town with only a few clay huts but was also the headquarters of the District Officer, the Dzongpön. It was on the main caravan route coming from Amdo to Central Tibet.China is planning to build Nagqu Airport, the highest airport in the world at an altitude of 4,436 m (14,554 ft). The construction is planned to start in 2011 and expected to take three years to complete. When completed, it will overtake the current highest, Qamdo Bangda Airport, with an elevation of 4,334 m (14,219 ft).

In 2015 Phayul reported that, "the local Tibetans of Nagshoe Township in Driru County were forced to abide by a four point imposition by the Chinese authorities who warned that failure to follow them would prohibit them to harvest the Yartsa Gunbo (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) for a period of five years. Tibetans in the area hugely depend for livelihood on the harvest of the fungus valued highly for its herbal remedy. The four point imposed by the Chinese authorities dictated the locals must have a ‘talent show’ where local Tibetans must perform songs and dances wearing costumes with wildlife pelts, a move to turn the Tibetans against an appeal by the exiled Tibetan leader to stop the use of animal products in costumes."

With all months having a mean temperature below 10 °C, due to the town's very high altitude, Nagqu has an alpine climate (Köppen climate classification: EH), with long, very cold and dry winters, and short, cool summers.

Rumex paucifolius

Rumex paucifolius is a species of flowering plant in the knotweed family known by the common name alpine sheep sorrel.It is native to western North America from southwestern Canada to California to Colorado, where it grows in moist areas in mountainous habitat, up to areas of alpine climate.

Rumex gracilescens is a variant endemic to Turkey. It was on the IUCN Species Survival Commissions 1997 Red List of Threatened Plants.

Tasmanophlebi lacuscoerulei

Tasmanophlebi lacuscoerulei is a species of mayfly in family Siphlonuridae. It is endemic to New South Wales in Australia. It is known commonly as the large Blue Lake mayfly.This mayfly has a limited distribution in an area of about 80 square kilometers in Kosciuszko National Park. It occurs at Blue Lake and its inlet stream, and possibly at Lakes Albina and Cootapatamba.The species is native to the alpine climate of this area, and is likely sensitive to climate change. For this reason it was uplisted from vulnerable to endangered status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2014.

Tourism in Switzerland

Tourists are drawn to Switzerland's diverse landscape as well as activities. Most interesting are the Alpine climate and landscapes, in particular for skiing and mountaineering.

As of 2016, tourism accounted for an estimated 2.6% (CHF 16.8 billion) of Switzerland's gross domestic product, down from 2.6% (CHF 12.8 billion) in 2001.

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