Tropical climates are found near the equator. This is an area that receives a lot of sunlight. In turn, these regions experience high air temperatures throughout the year. This is the major characteristic of the tropical climate.
Photo: Tropical rainforest (Creative Commons: Allan Hopkins).
Tropical climates are located in latitudes near the equator. As a result, these areas receive high levels of sunlight (solar radiation) year-round. This produces an environment with high air temperatures throughout the year. The sunlight and warm temperatures are favorable for plant growth.
Depending on rainfall (precipitation), two major types of plant communities are found. These are the tropical rainforest and the savanna.
Tropical Rainforest Climates
Tropical climates with high levels of rainfall throughout the year are associated with tropical rainforests. This is a plant community of tall trees. The tropical rainforest climate can be found in South America, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.
The warm and wet climate supports very diverse ecosystems. It is thought that about 80% of living species are found in these environments. The dense vegetation also produces about 40% of the earth’s oxygen.
Photo: the savanna or tropical grassland (Creative Commons: Brian Harries).
In some equatorial areas, there is a rainy season and a dry season. This pattern of seasonal rainfall results in the savanna. The savanna is a tropical grassland. The typical vegetation consists of grass with a few scattered trees.
In Africa, populations of large herbivores, such as the elephant, live in the savanna. Large carnivores, such as the lion, are also found. The herbivores contribute to the creation of a grassland community. They do this by feeding or trampling on the seedlings of trees.
Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills
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Rainforest, Earth Observatory, NASA.