Altitudinal Zoning

Many may not know what altitudinal zonation is or why it is important to different areas of North America so I’m going to break it down for you! šŸ™‚

What is altitudinal zoning and what is an example not in North America?

Altitudinal zonation is when an area has many different elevations, like a mountainous region, and each of these elevations have a different layer of thier ecosystem. As you can see in the image below, the The Andes mountain range is broken up into five different elevation ranges. The bottom layer which is at an elevation of about 1,500 is called the tierra caliente because it is the hot land area and usually has the climate of a tropical rainforest. The second layer is called the tierra templada which is known to be a montane rain forest and is about elevation ranges from 1,500-2,500. The third layer is the tierra fria which is cold land and is called the tropical cloud forest. This layer is at an elevation of about 2,500-4,000. The fourth layer is the tierra helada which is frozen land, as you rise in elevation the colder it gets so here you will just see short grasses, herbs and shrubs. The elevation in the tierra helada is from 4,000-5,250. The fifth and final altitudinal zone of the Andes is the tierra nevada which is the snowy land. The elevation here is from 5,250-up. Here you can usually find glaciers, snow, ice and debris.

Why is altitudinal zonation important in North America?

Altitudunal zonation is very important in North America because the elevations throughout range from below sea level to above 11,000 feet. This is a wide variation of different climates and vegetation which are all important. In most coastal areas such as North Carolina and Florida, the land is very much flat and has little to no elevation but, when you get further into North Carolina you can see that you start to get mountainous areas such as the Appalachian Mountains which bring snow to those certain areas and different types of vegetation can grow there. The western half of North America shows very high signs of different variations of elevation which means climates can vary in these areas.

5 thoughts on “Altitudinal Zoning

  1. Altitudinal zonation is even more important in Latin America (the Andes are in South America).

    The western US, and California especially have an expression of climate, natural vegetation and land use variation by altitude.

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  2. what differentiates each elevation? for example, I know the tree line in New England is lower than here in NC does position latitudinally matter?

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  3. Altitudinal differences are really fascinating! In Tennessee, where I did a lot of research, the plateau of Monteagle Mountain has species of flora that are totally unique to it. And those differ from the Savage Gulf leading to it which has its own unique signatures. https://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6171&context=utk_gradthes Sewanee at the University of the South has a room that has lots more info on that and I wish it was online. They still have some good things to look at though: https://www.sewanee.edu/

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