Wednesday, October 6, 2010

R&R at a Different Latitude and Altitude

I am having some R&R in Fort Collins, Colorado. I have been struck by the trees not having turned yet with the exception of a few with just a hint of yellow. This despite the fact that I am at over 5,000 feet. The difference of a few degrees of latitude and a more continental climate. In Bellingham with a north Pacific marine climate and more northern latitude, many trees including the maples behind my office have lost leaves. But it will not be long before it gets colder here than western Washington.

The other impressive difference is the tree line in the mountains. Yesterday I was at 10,000 feet and still in forest. The tree line in western Washington is not straight forward. The shear volume of snow limits tree growth versus the cold that creates a sharp tree line in the Rockies of Colorado. The only area in Washington State with a true tree line is the northeast portion of the North Cascades with a tree line around 8,000 feet. Given the lack of area above 8,000 feet it amounts to a small area.

My other note worthy observation is the take over of the Estes Park golf course (a town) by herds of elk. I find the adjustments animals make to human induced habitat change fascinating. And of course humans have made adjustments as well. A little less late season golfing. 

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