Low Latitude Climates
This chapter focuses on the climates that are found between the
tropic of cancer and the tropic of capricorn.
Low latitude climates:
- occupy the equatorial zone, much of the tropical zone and
some of the subtropical zone.
- include climates that range from very wet to very dry.
- are influenced by the intertropical convergence zone, tropical
easterly wind systems and the subtropical high-pressure cells.
- experience travelling low pressure systems such as the easterly
wave and tropical cyclones.
- The wet equatorial climate is characterized by:
- dominance of he intertropical convergence zone (ITC).
- mE and mT air masses.
- uniform, very warm temperatures in all seasons.
- ample precipitation, heaviest when the ITC is nearby.
Monsoon and trade wind coastal climates are characterized
- heavy rainfall with strong seasonal patterns.
- a larger temperature range than the wet equatorial climate.
- dominance of the ITC during the heavy rainfall period and
the subtropical high pressure system during the dry season.
- trade wind coast climates are a result of mT and mE air
masses blowing onto coastal areas bringing large amounts of moisture.
- the monsoon aspect of these climates is a result of the
changing position of the ITC and reversing pressure gradients.
- heavy rainfall is associated with the ITC and an airflow
from ocean to land while the dry season is associated with airflow
off the Asian continent to the ocean.
- The wet equatorial and monsoon and trade wind coastal climates
produce the low-latitude rainforest with dense vegetation,
numerous streams and a great diversity of plant and animal life.
Products and resources of the rainforest include
lumber, drugs, rubber, and foods such as cassava, yams, taro,
bananas, plantain and coconuts.
- The wet-dry tropical climate is characterized by:
- a warm climate but with a more marked temperature range.
- during the high sun season, proximity to the ITC brings heavy
- during the cooler period, the subtropical high pressure cell
produces very dry conditions.
- vegetation adapts to the seasonality of rainfall and is described
as rain-green as it enters a dormant period during the dry season
and leafs out and blooms in the rainy season.
- dramatic variations in rainfall are reflected in streamflow
which varies from very low flows to flood-like conditions.
- agriculture experiences periodic drought.
- The dry tropical climate:
- is dominated by the subtropical high-pressure cell.
- experiences very low precipitation and intense daytime heating
under predominantly clear skies.
- includes many of the world's great deserts.
- semi-arid areas on the edges of the desert may have a short
wet season. These steppe areas are transitional from the desert
to the wet-dry tropical climate.
wet equatorial low-latitude throntree-tall
climate rainforest grass savanna
intertropical wet-dry tropical savanna woodland
convergence climate Sahel
zone cT air mass land degradation
mE air mass subtropical dry tropical
mT air mass high-pressure climate
monsoon cell highland climate
tradewind coast raingreen
- Describe the annual temperature and precipitation patterns
for the wet equatorial climate.
- What atmospheric circulation factors dominate the wet equatorial
- Describe the annual precipitation pattern for the monsoon
and trade wind coast climates.
- How is the trade wind coast climate different from the monsoon
- Describe the annual temperature pattern of the tropical desert
- What atmospheric circulation factors dominate the tropical
- How have plants adapted to the tropical desert environment?
- How does climate impact agriculture and animal life on the
- How do temperature and precipitation change as elevation increases?
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