Climate of Colombia
The Climate of Colombia is characterized for being tropical and isothermal as a result of its geographical location near the Equator presenting variations within five natural regions and depending on the altitude, temperature, humidity, winds and rainfall. Each region maintains an average temperature throughout the year only presenting variables determined by precipitation during a rainy season caused by the Intertropical Convergence Zone.
The diversity of climates in Colombia is characterized for having tropical rainforests, savannas, steppes, deserts and mountain climate, this last one further subdivided into tierra caliente (hot land) tierra templada (temperate land) tierra fría (cold land), tierra helada (frozen land) and Páramo.
The tropical rainforest climate is characterized by hot and high humidity climate along with heavy rainfall mostly present in the jungles of the Catatumbo, the Amazon river basin the central region of the Magdalena River, the Pacific coast, the Serranía del Perijá and others.
The semi-humid tropical savanna climate is characterized for being between 24 and 27 °C (75.2 and 80.6 °F) with a variation in climate of two seasons; a rainy season and a dry season (produced by the trade winds from the northeast) each enduring a period of six months. Regions in Colombia with this climate characteristic are the Llanos (eastern plains), some section of the Caribbean plains near the coast, sections of the Magdalena and Cauca river valleys.
The steppe climate is characterized for having a very few vegetation limits and minimum precipitations and can also include the desert climate for a period of 5 months of dry season. This type of weather is characteristic of the plains of Bolívar and the northern Guajira (Serranía de Macuira), the central area of the Orinoquía region and the higher grounds of the Andes mountain range.
The tropical desert climate in Colombia is present in the Guajira and Tatacoa deserts characterized for their high temperatures and scarce precipitation. The trade winds from the northeast carry humidity from the oceans and without a mountain barrier nearby continue flowing without dropping any rainfall and eventually creating droughts.
Tropical mountain climate
Mountain climate is one of the unique features of the Andes, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and other high altitude reliefs where climate is determined by elevation. These variations in climate depending on its altitude are called altitudinal zones (Spanish: Pisos termicos), a classification used in some countries but with variations in the classification of each floor.
- Warm climate altitudinal zone
The warm altitudinal zone oscillates between sea level and 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) above sea level with a temperature over 24 °C (75.2 °F). Climate in this step is characterized for its similarities with the equatorial and tropical plains, heavy rains and high temperatures. Temperatures can reach over 29 °C (84.2 °F) as it is the case of the Magdalena river valley, which has many areas with jungles. This altitudinal zone is present in the cities like Santa Marta, Neiva, Cali and Cúcuta.
- Temperate climate altitudinal zone
Between 1,000 and 2,000 meters (3,281 and 6,562 ft) above sea level the temperature drops oscillating between 17 and 22 °C (62.6 and 71.6 °F) defining it as a temperate climate. Rainfall becomes variable at 1,700 meters (5,577 ft) above sea level and rains between 2,000 and 2,500 mm (78.7 and 98.4 in) . This climate is a characteristic in the cities like Pereira, Armenia, Ibagué Popayán and Medellín.
- Cold climate altitudinal zone
The cold climate is present between 2,000 and 3,000 meters (6,562 and 9,843 ft) above sea level and is characterized for having Andean or cloud forests. This altitudinal zone is characterized for presenting an average temperature ranging between 10 and 17 °C (50.0 and 62.6 °F) while rainfall reaches a yearly average of 2,000 mm (78.7 in). The Colombian capital city Bogotá is located within this altitudinal zone. Other cities like San Juan de Pasto and Tunja are in this location.
- Páramo climate altitudinal zone
The Páramo climate is present between 3,000 and 4,000 meters (9,843 and 13,123 ft) above sea level and the temperature is lower than 10 °C (50 °F) with icy winds, rare rainfall but frequent snowfall. Colombia has one of the largest páramo areas in the world; the Sumapaz Páramo located in central Colombia, over the Andean Cordillera Oriental branch. In Colombia páramos are further classified as subpáramo, páramo and superpáramo. Most of the rivers in Colombia are born here since páramos tend to hold water from precipitations and deglaciations coming from the peaks.
- Glacial climate altitudinal zone
The glaciers in Colombia are located at 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) above sea level and up and with average temperatures ranging between 10 °C (50 °F) and less. Glaciers in Colombia began retreating in the 20th century due to global warming and are in danger of disappearing, if this occurs water supply would be scarce in the near future. Most of the glaciers are located in the Andes mountains and are inhabited by very few living species due to its severe weather.
- (Spanish) International Universia: Climate of Colombia International Universia Accessed 23 August 2007.
- "Climate of Colombia" Encyclopædia Britannica Accessed 23 August 2007
- Colombian Embassy in Tokio: Climate of Colombia Colombian Embassy in Tokio Accessed 24 August 2007.
- TodaColombia.com: Thernal Floors in Colombia todacolombia.com Accessed 24 August 2007.
- (Spanish) Memo.com.co: Páramos of Colombia memo.com.co Accessed 24 August 2007.
- 63rd Eastern Snow Conference: Retreat of Tropical Glaciers in Colombia an Venezuela between 1984 to 2004 as measured by ASTER and Landsat images easternsnow.org Accessed 24 August 2007.
- The Guardian: Cities in peril as Andean glaciers melt guardian.co.uk Accessed 24 August 2007.
- USGS: Glaciers of Colombia USGS Accessed 24 August 2007.