Global Environment




Cold, snowy, windy. When you hear those words they make you think of mountains. The Alpine biome is like winter is to people in New England; snow, high winds, ice, all the typical winter things. In Latin the word for 'high mountain' is 'alpes'. That is where today's word alpine comes from.

Alpine Location Map

Alpine biomes are found in the mountain regions all around the world. They are usually at an altitude of about 10,000 feet or more. The Alpine biome lies just below the snow line of a mountain. As you go up a mountain, you will travel through many biomes. In the North American Rocky Mountains you begin in a desert biome. As you climb you go through a deciduous forest biome, grassland biome, steppe biome, and taiga biome before you reach the cold Alpine biome.

Alpine Landscape*Himalayan Mountains

*Andes Mountains







In the summer average temperatures range from 10 to 15° C . In the winter the temperatures are below freezing. The winter season can last from October to May. The summer season may last from June to September. The temperatures in the Alpine biome can also change from warm to freezing in one day.

Because the severe climate of the Alpine biome, plants and animals have developed adaptations to those conditions. There are only about 200 species of Alpine plants. At high altitudes there is very little CO2, which plants need to carry on photosynthesis. Because of the cold and wind, most plants are small perennial groundcover plants which grow and reproduce slowly. They protect themselves from the cold and wind by hugging the ground. Taller plants or trees would soon get blown over and freeze. When plants die they don't decompose very quickly because of the cold. This makes for poor soil conditions. Most Alpine plants can grow in sandy and rocky soil. Plants have also adapted to the dry conditions of the Alpine biome. Plant books and catalogs warn you about over watering Alpine plants.

Alpine animals have to deal with two types of problems: the cold and too much high UV wavelengths. This is because there is less atmosphere to filter UV rays from the sun. There are only warm blooded animals in the Alpine biome, although there are insects. Alpine animals adapt to the cold by hibernating, migrating to lower, warmer areas, or insulating their bodies with layers of fat. Animals will also tend to have shorter legs, tails, and ears, in order to reduce heat loss. Alpine animals also have larger lungs, more blood cells and hemoglobin because of the increase of pressure and lack of oxygen at higher altitudes. This is also true for people who have lived on mountains for a long time, like the Indians of the Andes Mountains in South America and the Sherpa's of the Himalayas in Asia.

Himalayan Mountains

The Himalayan Alpine range is located in Asia in the countries of Nepal, Tibet Himalayan Mountains location map(China), India, Pakistan and Bhutan. The range makes a curve of 1,500 miles through Southern Asia

Because the Himalayan mountain range is at a high altitude the air is very thin. The air is also very dry and has a very low precipitation level. The mountains rise from the plains of northern India which are about 1,000 feet above sea level. From these plains many of the mountains rise more than 3 miles above sea level; Mount Everest is 29,028 feet above sea level. The climate is very cold and is hard to survive in most parts. There are two main seasons winter and summer. The winters are long and very cold and the summers are short and cool. It is so cold because of its high altitude.

Rhododendron plants grow on most mountains. Oak, laurel and chestnut trees are also found up to 7,000 feet above sea level. Pine trees are found up to 12,000 feet above sea level; above that point only lichens, grass and moss can be found, since it is so cold in the higher regions. Only certain plants are designed to grow in such harsh conditions.

Native peoples have learned to grow crops such as tea, rice and barley on the southern end of the mountain range. Also in that area tropical plants may be found, as well as animals such as the tiger, monkey, leopard and the Asian elephant. One of the main animals of this mountainous biome is the yak. The yak can be over six feet tall and usually weighs 1,100-1,200 pounds. You may think its weight would make it clumsy, but actually it is very agile. When provoked it will charge with its horns. It has special bodily functions such as a lot of long hair for warmth.

The Himalayan biome is ever growing more polluted, due to the growing popularity of climbing the mountains. When people go up, all their supplies are left on the mountain because it takes too much energy to bring it down again. If someone dies, their body is left on the mountain. Many people have climbed Mount Everest, and right now a man is attempting to become the first blind man to reach the summit.

Andes Mountains

The Andes Mountains are located in South America, running north to south along Andes Mountains  Location Mapthe western coast of the continent. The latitude is 10° N. to 57° S. The longitude is 70° W. to 80° E.

The Andes Mountains are one of the longest and one of the highest mountain ranges in the world. They are located in South America and stretch 4,500 miles from north to south, along the west coast of the continent.

The climate is not the same throughout the biome because there are places nearer to the equator than others. The Andes are separated into three natural regions: the southern, central, and northern regions. In the northern region, it is hotter because it is closest to the equator. There are rain forests in this region, due to the more humid, rainy climate. In the southern region, the mountains are nearer to the Antarctic and it is much colder. It is not very populated in the southern area.

In the central region of this biome, the weather is more mild because it is not near either the equator or the cold Antarctic. The largest herb in the world, Puya raimondii, grows in this region and can survive at high elevations up to 13,000 feet. The herb can also live for 100 years. The herb's leaves all grow from one big stem, which allows for moisture to run down the leaves to the base of the plant. So during times of drought, the plant can survive.

Many of the plants which grow in the Andes Mountains are small in size to conserve energy. Their leaves can be stiff and strong to protect them from frost and cold weather if they are high in the mountains.

The Andes Mountains supply many birds with homes like the Flamingo, Andean Flicker, the Condor, and the Hillstar Hummingbird. Types of land animals include the Mountain Lion, the Red Perll, and Llamas to name a few. The Spectacled Bear also lives in this biome. The Giant Toad and Andean Iguana are some examples of reptiles. This iguana is one of the few lizards found in that cold climate.

The Andes Mountains are hurt by humans because they cut down trees which shelter many unique Andean animals. Man also mines for gold, silver, and copper which then erodes the soil and hurts the plants of the Andes.


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