What Are the Vertical Climate Zones in Latin America?

vertical-climate-zones-latin-america Credit: Dennis Tang/CC-BY-SA 2.0

The five vertical climate zones of Latin America are tierra caliente, tierra templada, tierra fria, tierra helada and tierra nevada. These climate zones are the result of altitudinal zonation.

Altitudinal zonation is a layering of climate zones in mountainous regions. Five of these zones occur in Latin America.

The tierra caliente zone is hot and comprises tropical rainforests and savannas.

The tierra templada is a temperate zone of evergreen forests. Coffee is an important economic crop in this zone.

The tierra fria is the upper limit of natural tree growth and is a region of high plateaus and mountain valleys. Many indigenous subsistence farmers rely on the tierra fria region to grow grains and potatoes. Lake Titicaca, on the border of Bolivia and Peru, is part of the tierra fria region. Together with the tierra templada, the tierra fria contains an important Latin American ecosystem, with species found nowhere else on Earth: the cloud forest.

The tierra helada region consists of alpine meadows. Little crop farming takes place here but it provides excellent grazing land for llamas and alpacas.

The final zone, the tierra nevada, marks the snow line in Latin America. Above this demarcation, ice and snow cover the ground throughout the year.