By Steven L. Stephenson
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Extra info for A Natural History of the Central Appalachians
On clear, calm nights, especially during the spring and fall, the layer of air next to the ground on a ridgetop becomes colder than the air above it. Under the influence of gravity, this colder air moves (“flows”) down slope and accumulates on the floor of the adjacent valley. This phenomenon (called “cold air drainage”) can lower temperatures on the valley floor by several degrees, so much so that the valley floor can be cooler than the ridgetops of surrounding mountains. In this situation the valley floor is characterized by appreciably lower temperature than would be accounted for by either topographic position or elevation alone.
0). produce seeds (usually enclosed at least initially in a fruit) that are dispersed over appreciable distances, and these stand a much better chance of getting from the parent tree to a new locality, where they can germinate and give rise to a new individual. Such seeds are small and are enclosed in a fruit with flattened membranous extensions (“wings”) that enable them to flutter or glide to the ground. If the wind is blowing, these “winged” fruits (usually one-seeded) can be easily carried well beyond the parent tree.
Temperature decreases with elevation, so that the averages at higher elevations are lower than those at lower elevations in the same region. 0° F per three hundred feet. Because precipitation generally increases with elevation, levels of moisture are often highest at the very highest elevations in the Central Appalachians. This is not invariably so, since other factors play a role, including the direction of prevailing winds and a “rain shadow” present in northern portions of the Ridge and Valley as a result of adjacent highelevation areas on the Appalachian Plateau.
A Natural History of the Central Appalachians by Steven L. Stephenson