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Temperature Patterns in Mountain Ecosystems

The basic mechanisms for how temperatures change with elevation in mountain landscapes and how temperature inversions form in valleys have been understood for many years. Under "normal" circumstances, temperatures decrease at a known rate, the "lapse rate", with elevation. Knowledge of the lapse rate allows meteorologists and scientists to extrapolate from a few measurement locations across a complex landscape. By definition, an inversion event turns the normal lapse rate on its head. During an inversion, air temperatures are cooler than expected near the surface.

Daly, C., D.R. Conklin and M.H. Unsworth. 2009. Local atmospheric decoupling in complex topography alters climate change impacts. International Journal of Climatology 30(12): 1857-1864.
Pypker, T.G., M.H. Unsworth, B. Lamb, E. Allwine, S. Edburg, E. Sulzman, A.C. Mix and B.J. Bond. 2007a. Cold air drainage in a forested valley: Investigating the feasibility of monitoring ecosystem metabolism. Ag. For. Met. 145:149-166.
Pypker, T.G., M.H. Unsworth, A.C. Mix, W. Rugh, T. Ocheltree, K. Alstad and B.J. Bond. 2007b. Using nocturnal cold air drainage flow to monitor ecosystem processes in complex terrain: a pilot study on the carbon isotopic composition and advection of ecosystem respiration. Ecological Applications 17(3):702-714.
Dr. Chris Daly
Dr. Barbara Bond
The Vanmet Climate Station in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. This is one of the Andrews' long-term climate stations that is providing critical information for understanding the response of landscape-scale temperature patterns to local topography, elevation, vegetation cover and upper atmosphere windflow patterns.
Chris Daly
Estimated spatial distribution across the H.J. Andrews LTER site of maximum temperature in December in response to a 2.5 degree C regional temperature increase and anticipated change in upper atmosphere airflow using elevation and local topography as explanatory variables. Intricate patterns of elevation and topographic position create steep response gradients across the landscape.
Daly et al. 2009



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