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July 2002

Mountain climates

R. Gommes,
Agrometeorology Group,
Environment and Natural Resources Service
FAO Research, Extension and Training Division

Climate variables undergo systematic changes with elevation, most notably a decrease in temperature. It is often argued that the altitudinal belts parallel latitudinal climate variations, but this applies only as a first approximation, as changing slope, aspect and other effects can largely compensate or exacerbate the effect of altitude alone.

Altogether, mountain climates are characterised by a rather distinctive combination of temperature, radiation, wind and rainfall patterns, as well as a larger variability of climate, both spatial and temporal (at scales from days to seasons) compared with lowlands at the same latitude.

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