Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate

Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate and (5) Elements Discussed

Temperate deciduous forest climate is characterized by seasonal variations in temperature, solar radiation, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, humidity and wind.

This article discusses temperate deciduous forest climate based on its five (5) core elements, as follows;







1). Temperature in the Temperate Deciduous Forest (as an Element of Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate)

Temperature is an essential element of climate in the temperate forest.

Over the course of a year, the temperature condition of temperate deciduous forests varies considerably, and these variations can be used as indicators of changes in season, from spring, summer and autumn, to winter.

Spring temperature in the temperate deciduous forest changes progressively as the spring gives way to summer.

Early spring is usually mild in heat level; with temperature ranging between 10 and 20°C. This range broadens to about 25°C later in the spring, with cold weather occurring occasionally.

Summer temperatures are generally highest in the temperate forest. On average, a range of 20-30°C should be expected.

Plant growth is optimal in the summer due to abundant supply of light (from the Sun) for photosynthesis. Many temperate forest animals also experience their peak level of productivity during the summer.

Temperate regions are prone to high-temperature hazards like heatwaves [6], which can raise the environmental temperature far above average levels.

In autumn, temperatures decline gradually from summer-levels, resulting in milder climatic/weather conditions. Early autumn is characterized by an average temperature range of 10-20°C, while late autumn records even lower temperatures between 6 and 15°C.

Most trees in the temperate deciduous forest begin to experience discoloration and shedding of their leaves, during autumn season [3].

Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate: Temperature Decline in Autumn Season Drives the Onset of Leaf-Discoloration and Shedding in Deciduous Trees (Credit: Faragas 2012 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate: Temperature Decline in Autumn Season Drives the Onset of Leaf-Discoloration and Shedding in Deciduous Trees (Credit: Faragas 2012 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)



Temperatures are lowest in winter, during which they can fall below 0°C. Average winter temperatures range from -5 to 10°C in this zone [4].

Further shedding of leaves occurs in deciduous trees during winter, as an adaptive measure for energy conservation in the absence of abundant sunlight. Precipitation is also affected by the low temperature, and occurs mostly in the form of snowfall.

The highest temperatures in the temperate deciduous forest are above 30°C, and occur mostly during the summer, in extreme heat hazards/events. On the overall, temperate deciduous forests have an average annual temperature of 10°C. Other elements of the climate in temperate forests may interact with, and influence temperature in a co-dependent manner.






2). Solar Radiation in the Temperate Deciduous Forest

As an element of climate, solar radiation influences temperate forests immensely in terms of physicochemical and biological functioning. It affects the climate because solar-electromagnetic waves include infrared radiation, which contains thermal energy that can alter the temperature of the environment (and atmosphere).

Solar radiation is also one of the most important abiotic components of a temperate forest. It is the ultimate source of energy to the ecosystem, which is captured by autotrophic organisms and transferred to heterotrophs across all trophic levels of the food chain and energy pyramid.

Some studies are of the opinion that solar radiation in temperate forests achieves maximum penetration and impact in the early spring, because this period marks the rise of solar orbital paths, and the beginning of deciduous leaf-regrowth [5].

After the trees have fully regrown their leaves, a dense forest canopy may form, which reduces the rate of solar penetration drastically.

However, solar penetration differs from solar availability and supply.

The maximum supply of solar radiation in temperate zones occurs during summer, when the daily duration of sunlight may be upwards of six (6) hours.

Much of this does not reach the forest floor due to the fully-grown forest structure/canopy at this time, but it still influences temperature significantly, so that the relatively-high temperatures of summer season can be correlated positively with the amount of solar radiation.

Other climatic influences of solar radiation on the temperate forest include its role in the formation of wind and the dynamics of air pressure, which in turn contribute to the occurrence of heat hazards.

Unlike other climatic elements, solar radiation is versatile in its importance to the temperate deciduous forest.


Ways in which sunlight affect the temperate deciduous forest are summarized as follows;

1. Bioenergy provision

2. Facilitation of photosynthesis and carbon sequestration

3. Control of diurnal and nocturnal organic activities

4. Climate and seasonal-change control

5. Driver of organic adaptation and forest-structural development






3). Precipitation in the Temperate Deciduous Forest (as an Element of Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate)

Like temperature and solar radiation, precipitation is an immensely-relevant element of the temperate deciduous forest climate.

Deciduous forests receive precipitation in all seasons all through the year, however, spring and summer seasons generally record the highest amount of rainfall. Other seasons like winter and autumns also record significant precipitation in most cases, but this is lower than spring-summer levels, and may occur as snowfall.

Temperate forests receive moderate-to-high levels of rainfall yearly, and can be said to fall between tundras and tropical rainforests in terms of precipitation.

Rainfall is the most common and dominant form of precipitation in the temperate deciduous forest, and annual precipitation may range between 750 and 1500 millimeters on average.

Over the course of a year, seasonal fluctuations in the amount of precipitation are minimal, and the only seasons with obvious increase are spring and summer, during which humidity is also at its highest in the temperate forest.

Along with temperature, precipitation is a huge influencer of climate and marker of seasonal transitions. It is directly linked to humidity; which is yet another element of temperate forest climate.

Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in air. Highest levels of humidity coincide with highest amounts of precipitation in temperate forests, as processes like evaporation and condensation drive the natural hydrological recycling of water resources in the biome.

The effects of precipitation on temperate forests range from climate modification to organic metabolism, food supply and overall ecologic sustainability.

Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate: Autumn and Winter Precipitation may Occur as Snowfall (Credit: Robert A. Karges (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) 2002)
Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate: Autumn and Winter Precipitation may Occur as Snowfall (Credit: Robert A. Karges (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) 2002)






4). Atmospheric Pressure

Atmospheric pressure is a measure of the force which air currents and masses exert on a given area [1].

In temperate deciduous forests, atmospheric pressure is an element of climate because it interacts with and influences other elements like temperature, humidity and precipitation.

Factors that influence atmospheric pressure in the temperate forest include temperature, which is directly proportional to the temperature of gases.

Temperature or heat is responsible for driving the convective cycles that determine the pressure of air. Warmer air masses are less dense and rise above cooler air masses.

A highly-active convective cycle with large amounts of adjacently-occurring warm and cool air masses will lead to high air pressure in temperate forests. Since the air masses have temperature levels of their own, their dynamics may influence the overall climatic condition within their environment.

Atmospheric pressure is measured in units of hectopascals (hPa) or millibars (mb) [2], and it can be used as an indicator of average climatic conditions, and seasonal weather changes in temperate forests.

Also, atmospheric pressure determines the formation of clouds, which are required for precipitation to occur.






5). Wind in the Temperate Deciduous Forest (as an Element of Temperate Deciduous Forest Climate)

Wind is an element of temperate deciduous forest climate, that works together with atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity to influence the prevalent environmental conditions in the ecosystem.

Generally, temperate forest wind is driven by differences in atmospheric pressure, that establish a convective, cyclic dynamic of continuous mass air-movement from regions of high pressure to low-pressure regions.

Because of the dense growth of vegetation in spring and summer, wind is not a dominant climatic element in the temperate forest, especially not in comparison to its influence in less-vegetated ecosystems like deserts and grasslands.

However, air currents that make-up wind are instrumental in the formation of clouds, retention of moisture, and trend of precipitation as well as micro-climatic patterns, in temperate forests.







Temperate deciduous forest climate can be analyzed in terms of;

1. Temperature

2. Solar Radiation

3. Precipitation

4. Atmospheric Pressure

5. Wind






1). Ahmad, D.; Kamth, R.; Paryaze, S.; Madhi, S. S. (2017). "Measurement of Atmospheric Pressure." Experimental Agrometeorology: A Practical Manual (pp.75-81). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69185-5_11. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

2). Burt, S. (2021). "A twice‐daily barometric pressure record from Durham Observatory in north‐east England, 1843–1960." Geoscience Data Journal 10(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/gdj3.135. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

3). Gill, A. L.; Gallinat, A. S.; Sanders-DeMott, R.; Rigden, A. J.; Short Gianotti, D. J.; Mantooth, J. A.; Templer, P. H. (2015). "Changes in autumn senescence in northern hemisphere deciduous trees: a meta-analysis of autumn phenology studies." Ann Bot. 2015 Nov;116(6):875-88. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcv055. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

4). Gilliam, F. S. (2016). "Forest ecosystems of temperate climatic regions: from ancient use to climate change." New Phytol. 2016 Dec;212(4):871-887. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.14255. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

5). Hutchison, B. A.; Matt, D. R. (1977). "The annual cycle of solar radiation in a deciduous forest." Agricultural Meteorology, Volume 18, Issue 4, August 1977, Pages 255-265. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-1571(77)90017-6. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

6). Sang, Z.; Hamann, A. (2023). "A Record-Setting 2021 Heat Wave in Western Canada Had a Significant Temporary Impact on Greenness of the World’s Largest Protected Temperate Rainforest." Remote Sensing 15(8):2162. Available a: https://doi.org/10.3390/rs15082162. (Accessed 30 May 2023).

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