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Four major climatic regions


Tropical climate in South America
Tropical climate in South America

South America can be divided into four major climatic regions—tropical, temperate, arid, and cold—their parameters determined by the elements described above.

Among the tropical climates, the tropical rainy, or rain forest, type occurs on the Pacific coast of Colombia, in the Amazon basin, on the coast of the Guianas, and on part of the coast of Brazil. The average daily temperature is about 86° F (30° C), with monthly and annual variations of less than about 5° F (3° C). Heavy rainfall, well-distributed throughout the year, averages about 98 inches (2,500 millimetres) annually in Belém (Brazil), about 108 inches in Iquitos (Peru), and 71 inches in Manaus (Brazil). The Chocó region of Colombia—one of the wettest areas in the world—receives in excess of 400 inches, and it rains more than 300 days per year. In the Amazon region, rains do not fall evenly over the basin. The southern part receives most of its rainfall during the Southern Hemisphere summer (October to April), while the northern part has its rainy season during the Northern Hemisphere summer (May to September). The “dry” season is neither lengthy nor noticeable; humidity is always high.

The tropical wet-dry


The second type of tropical climate—the tropical wet-dry, or savanna (grassy parkland), type—is characterized by high temperatures (all monthly means above 64° F, or 18° C) but receives less precipitation and experiences a prolonged dry season. This type of climate is found on the fringes of the tropical-rainy belt, in the Orinoco basin, on the Brazilian Highlands, and in part of western Ecuador. Temperatures are still high and annual variations small, but daily temperature extremes are greater, typically ranging from a low of 65° F (18° C) to a high of 95° F (35° C).

The temperate climates have a greater range of temperatures than the tropical climates and may include extreme climatic variations. These climates, characterized by lower winter temperatures, are south of the Tropic of Capricorn (in Paraguay, parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile) and in the mid-level elevations of the Andes.

On the Atlantic side, temperatures in the warmest month average 77° F (25° C), but cold-month averages vary from 63° F (17° C) in the north (Asunción, Paraguay) to 50° F (10° C) in Buenos Aires, Arg. Rainfall exceeds 1.5 inches each month in the east but decreases to the west. In central Chile, between latitudes 32° and 38° S, the climatic features are similar to those of the Mediterranean, with mild winters and winter rains; summers, however, are cooler (69° F, or 21° C, in Santiago, Chile, in January—9° F, or 5° C, cooler than in Mediterranean locations). In southern Chile, winter temperatures are lower but not as low as the latitudes would indicate. The southern islands and channels have a relatively uniform cool climate throughout the year, and winters are much less severe than in Labrador, for example, which is at a comparable latitude and maritime location in the Northern Hemisphere. The presence of glaciers is the result of snowy winters and cool, cloudy summers during which ice does not completely melt. Rainfall is abundant (102 inches in Valdivia, Chile, and probably twice this figure on the western slopes of the mountains), and the southernmost west coastis one of the wettest regions in South America. A short distance inland, however, after passing into the lee of the Andes, rainfall decreases considerably (20 inches at Ushuaia, Arg.).Thus, in Patagonia an unusual situation exists in which these variations in rainfall result in significant differences in climate from west to east than from north to south. "South America" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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