Temperate rainforests are found on the western coast of North and South America, along the Pacific Ocean. They are cooler and drier than tropical rainforests. Abiotic factors, or nonliving factors, of a temperate rainforest include temperature, water, cloud cover, soil and light. These abiotic factors interact with biotic, or living factors, to form the rainforest's unique ecosystem. Abiotic factors influence what type of living organisms survive in temperate rainforests.
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Temperate rainforests have a mild, comfortable climate. The climate is mild because coastal mountain ranges trap moist air masses as they rise from the Pacific Ocean. The temperature ranges between freezing during the wet season and about 26.7 degrees C during the dry season. The frequent cloud cover also blocks out much of the sunlight.
Temperate rainforests are moist and lush. The moist air from the Pacific Ocean condenses after it is trapped by the coastal mountain ranges and falls as rain. Rainfall averages 60 to 200 inches per year. Rainforests in the northernmost areas can receive some ice and snow.
The climate is foggy and cloud-covered. It remains cloudy and foggy even during the dry season. In the summer, fog provides about 7 to 12 inches of rain per year. This contributes to the lush, temperate environment.
The soil is nutrient-rich because there are large amounts of decaying, organic matter. This organic matter, from leaves, dead vegetation and insects, is consumed by mushrooms, fungi, bacteria and insects. The lush soil combined with high precipitation allows the trees to grow very tall. The coastal redwood, for example, grows in temperate rainforests in California.
Much of the sunlight is blocked by the frequent clouds and fog. Even when the sky is clear, the tall canopy of the rainforest blocks much of the sunlight from reaching the forest floor. This factor, combined with the high precipitation, creates a dark and humid forest floor. Insects, mushrooms and fungi thrive in the temperate rainforests.
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