Tree line

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Tree line or timberline is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. Beyond the tree line, they are unable to grow because of inappropriate environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures, insufficient air pressure, or lack of moisture).
Tree line or timberline is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. Beyond the tree line, they are unable to grow because of inappropriate environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures, insufficient air pressure, or lack of moisture).

Tree line or timberline is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing.

Beyond the tree line, they are unable to grow because of inappropriate environmental conditions (usually cold temperatures, insufficient air pressure, or lack of moisture).

At the tree line, tree growth is often very stunted, with the last trees forming low, densely matted bushes. If it is caused by wind, it is known as krummholz formation, from the German for 'twisted wood'.

The alpine tree line at a location is dependent on local variables, such as aspect of slope, rain shadow and proximity to either geographical pole.

In addition, in some tropical or island localities, the lack of biogeographical access to species that have evolved in a sub-alpine environment, can result in lower tree lines than one might expect by climate alone.

Alpine tree line is the highest elevation that sustains trees; higher up, it is too cold or snow cover persists for too much of the year, to sustain trees.

Usually associated with mountains, the climate above the tree line is called an alpine climate, and the terrain can be described as alpine tundra.

Mountains of the Pacific Northwest of North America exhibit lower treelines on north-facing slopes than south-facing slopes, because increased shade means the deep snowpack takes longer to melt, which shortens the growing season for trees.

Given this caveat, here is a list of approximate tree lines from locations around the globe:




Location Approx. latitude Approx. elevation of tree line Notes
(m) (ft)
Sweden 68°N 800 2600
Norway 61°N 1100 3600 Lower near the coast
Olympic Mountains WA, USA 47°N 1500 5000 Heavy winter snowpack buries young trees until late summer
Mount Katahdin, Maine, USA 46°N 1158 3800
Swiss Alps 46°N 2100 7000 Higher on the southern side of the Alps.
Alps of Piedmont, Northwestern Italy 45°N 2100 7000
New Hampshire, USA 44°N 1220 4000 Some peaks have even lower treelines because of fire and subsequent loss of soil, such as Grand Monadnock and Mount Chocorua.
Wyoming, USA 43°N 3000 10000
Rila 42°N 2300 7700 Mountain Pine is the most common tree line species
Pyrenees Spain, France, Andorra 42°N 2300 7700 Mountain Pine is the tree line species
Wasatch Mountains, Utah, USA 40°N 2900 9500 Higher (nearly 11,000 feet) in the Uintas
Rocky Mountain National Park|Rocky Mountain NP, USA 40°N 3500 11500 On warm southwest slopes
3250 10800 On northeast slopes
Japanese Alps 39°N 2900 9500
Yosemite National Park|Yosemite, USA 38°N 3200 10500 Sierra Nevada
3600 11800 East side of Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada, Spain 37°N 2400 8000 Precipitation low in summer
Popocatepetl, Mexico 28°N 4000 13000
Himalaya 28°N 4400 14400
Hawaii, USA 20°N 2800 9000 Precipitation low above the trade winds
Costa Rica 9.5°N 3400 11200
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania 3°S 3000 10000 Example of a tropical location lacking biogeographical access to species that are evolved for living in a subalpine environment. Thus, the tolerance of the indigenous species is lower and it results in a lower tree line
New Guinea 6°S 3900 13000
Andes, Peru 11°S 3900 13000 East side; on west side tree growth is restricted by dryness
Andes, Bolivia 18°S 5200 17000 Western Cordillera; highest treeline in the world on the slopes of Sajama Volcano (Polylepis tarapacana)
4100 13000 Eastern Cordillera; treeline is lower because of lower solar radiation (more humid climate)
Sierra de Córdoba, Argentina 31°S 2000 6500 Precipitation low above trade winds, also high exposure
Australian Alps, Australia 36°S 2000 6500 West side of Australian Alps
1700 5500 East side of Australian Alps
Tasmania, Australia 41°S 1200 4000 Cold Winters, Strong Cold Winds and Cool Summers with occasional summer snow restrict tree growth
South Island, New Zealand 43°S 1200 4000 Strong maritime influence serves to cool summer and restrict tree growth
Torres del Paine, Chile 51°S 950 Strong influence from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field serves to cool summer and restrict tree growth
Navarino Island, Chile 55°S 600 Strong maritime influence serves to cool summer and restrict tree growth

[edit] Also See

[edit] Reference

  1. Wikipedia Tree line [1]



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