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Latin America Climate – Environmental Geography GCU 122 – World Regional Geography Jason Donoghue Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

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Presentation on theme: "Latin America Climate – Environmental Geography GCU 122 – World Regional Geography Jason Donoghue Chandler-Gilbert Community College."— Presentation transcript:

1 Latin America Climate – Environmental Geography GCU 122 – World Regional Geography Jason Donoghue Chandler-Gilbert Community College

2 Controls of Climate Latin America The different climatic regions of Latin America are influenced by the following factors: –Global atmospheric circulation Positions of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and the sub-tropical high pressure zones. Location of major global wind belts –Geological configurations Highlands of the Andes mountains Altitudinal Zonation

3 Global Atmospheric Circulation Rising air at the equator allows for an abundance of precipitation year round. The sub-tropical high is were you will find some of the drier savannah and desert regions.

4 Effects of Pressure Zones Sub-Tropical Highs Equatorial Low

5 Global Wind Belts Wind patterns coupled with the physical landscape have a significant impact on climate. –Two prime examples Atacama Desert Gulf coast of “Middle America”

6 Orographic Effect Atacama Desert Prevailing winds from the east are forced up by the Andes Mountains, and descends on the leeward side. –Creates a dry high pressure zone.

7 Orographic Effect Caribbean Coast – Middle America Prevailing winds from the east, again and are forced up by the highlands, creating areas of low pressure –This leads to precipitation, and the lush rain forests located here.

8 Vertical Climate Zones Middle and South America also experience areas where you may find several different climates in one area. –This is because of the highland regions, and the fact that as you rise in altitude the temperature cools. For every 1000 feet up you lose 5.5º

9 Altitudinal Zonation Middle & South America’s Vertical Climate Zones

10 Sea Level Sea Level 2500’ 750 m TIERRA CALIENTE (Hot Land) Bananas, Cocoa, Sugar, Rice Altitudinal Zonation Middle & South America’s Vertical Climate Zones

11 6,000’ 1800 m Sea Level 2000’ 600 m Sea Level TIERRA TEMPLADA (Temperate Land) Coffee, Rice, Corn, Sugar Altitudinal Zonation

12 Sea Level 6,000’ 2000’ 2,000 m 600 m Sea Level 12,000’ 3,600 m TIERRA FRIA (Cold Land) Corn, Wheat, Potato Altitudinal Zonation

13 12,000’ 3,600 m Sea Level 6,000’ 2000’ 2,000 m 600 m Sea Level TIERRA HELADA (Frost Land) Altitudinal Zonation

14 Climate Zones Tropical Rainforest Tropical or subtropical desert Tropical Savanna and Grasslands. Mid-latitude Grasslands Mediterranean Climate Marine West Coast Climate Highland Climates

15 Tropical Rain Forest The equatorial zones of high temperatures, and rainfall provide conditions for the rapid growth of vegetation in the form of rain forests of the Amazon and Middle America. –The Amazon basin ranges from 60 to 80 inches of rain per year.

16 Tropical or Subtropical Desert Warm and dry all year long. –Partially due to the subtropical high pressure zones located in these regions. Air becomes warmer and drier over the tropics and sinks. –For the Atacama Desert it lies in the rainshadow of the Andes Mountains Additionally the cold ocean currents that flow north along the west coast of South America do not allow the winds to absorb much moisture.

17 Tropical Savanna and Grasslands These areas are typically warm and have some sort of seasonal precipitation. –The seasonal precipitation depends on shifts in global wind patterns and pressure belts that shift to the north in the June-August season and to the south in the November-February period. Brasilia, Brazil – Wet Season – Nov. to Feb. –Moto Grasso Plateau Caracas, Venezuela – Wet Season – Jun. to Oct. –Llanos Caracas, Venezuela Llanos

18 Mid-Latitude Grasslands This climate zone is characterized by cooler temperatures, and low or seasonal amounts of precipitation. –Buenos Aries, Argentina –Patagonia and the Pampas in Argentina

19 Mediterranean Moderate temperatures with dry summers and wet winters. Confined to a small section of southern Chile. –This is due in part to the ocean currents, wind patterns and the location of the Andes Mountains. Wind patterns shifting north in June results in a distinct wet season here, and a distinct dry season in winter.

20 Marine West Coast Cooler and wet all year long. Much like the Mediterranean Climate this zone is found in a small area of southern Chile, and is controlled by the same factors. –The westerlies bring heavy rains to the coast here, partially due to the orographic effect caused by the Andes Mountains.

21 Highland Typically cooler temperatures, but this is where altitudinal zonation comes into play. –Many different climate types can actually be contained within this zone.

22 Natural Hazards and Environmental Concerns Tectonic Activity –Volcanoes and Earthquakes Caribbean Wind Patterns –Abundance of Hurricanes El Nino –Changes in Wind/Water flow that has global implications Deforestation of the Amazon –Destruction of the “lungs” of the planet

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24 Tectonic Plates

25 Earthquakes and Volcanoes

26 Mexico City In 1985 a major earthquake struck Mexico City. –Killed as many as 10,000 people –Devastated downtown buildings –City sits on an old lake bed with sediments that act similar to liquids during an earthquake

27 Caribbean Wind Patterns Tradewinds out of the east in this part of the world cause the eastern coasts of Mexico, and countries in Middle America vulnerable to hurricanes.

28 Honduras Hurricane Mitch slammed in to Honduras and surrounding nations in late October of –Dumped a year’s worth of rain in 48 hours. –Flash floods and mudslides deforested slopes –Left nearly 10,000 dead, and almost 20,000 missing. Devastated the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.

29 El Nino El Nino is a significant reason why climate in Latin America is usually variable. –During an El Nino cycle typically cool waters off the coast of Peru begin to warm. –This is because there is a shift in the weather patterns that characterize the south Pacific. Usually we see wind patterns that force the warmer water towards Indonesia and during an El Nino year, this wind slackens, or shifts entirely, allowing the warm waters to flow back across the Pacific ultimately off the coast of Peru. Normal Cycle El Nino Cycle

30 Effects of El Nino Brings warmer and wetter winds to the coasts of Peru and Ecuador. –With this we see flooding and mudslides. Global Effects: –Droughts in northeast Brazil –Floods in southern Brazil and northern Mexico –Fewer hurricanes due to wind pattern changes. –Droughts and fires in Indonesia, South Africa, and Australia

31 Deforestation of the Amazon In the 1970’s the Brazilian government began to focus on the development of the Amazon. –Along with this came the beginning of large scale deforestation of the rain forest. Networks of roads were built. Thousands of fires are set each year to clear large sections of forest The rate of deforestation vary region by region based on how they are being cleared, and used. –General agreement is that 15 percent of the Amazon basin has been cleared and the current rate is 50,000 sq miles a year.


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