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Station 2: The Forest Climate

 

What factors influence the forest climate?

 

Air Temperature and Wind

In the forest the summer air temperature is markedly cooler as it would be in a meadow, for example. A lot of this coolness can be attributed to the fact that only a small percentage of sun rays manage to penetrate the leafy canopy. Thus, the forest floor remains for much of the day in shadow. Much like sun exposure, the wind velocity is similarly limited in the forest. This is because the wind is inhibited slightly by every tree and shrub. A dense forest on an otherwise blustering day can generate so much resistance to the wind that near the ground there is hardly any wind motion at all.

 

Humidity

Humidity in the forest is significantly increased. This is because the trees in a forest are always in the process of evaporating water off of their leaves. In this manner, a fully-grown Beech, for example, can release enough water into its immediate environment to fill six bathtubs. When the forest floor is covered with undergrowth, the humidity is further supplemented, as plants, just like trees, give off moisture. Very early in the morning when it is still misty, one can see this humidity in the air.

 

Precipitation

Rain falls onto the forest canopy and the raindrops collect on the leaves. When the rain is particularly strong, the drops flow down branches, boughs and all the way to the bottom of the trunk. There is only a very limited amount of water that falls directly onto the forest floor. In a forest, one is likely not to get as wet as in the surrounding exposed land.

In winter, snow remains on the forest floor longer than in a field or in the city. This is especially pronounced in coniferous forests, where the evergreens provide a lot of shadow in spring.

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