North-South Variations in West Coast Hydrometeorological Parameters and Their Significance for Earth Systems

  • Richard G. Lawford
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 116)


Terrestrial processes coupled with atmospheric processes control the hydrological and biological characteristics of the western coasts of North and South America. Asymmetries exist between these two coasts in the distribution, richness, and diversity of biota. To some extent, these differences are a residual of the history of the two continents. They are also a function of the geomorphology and climate that control energy flows through ecosystems in these areas. An important question for the peoples of these regions, whose economies are derived from the local natural resources, relates to both the current rate of natural change and the sensitivity of these systems to anthropogenically driven changes that may result from local and global resource development. An understanding of the present is a key to predicting the future. Accordingly, we focus in this chapter on hydrometeorological controls, on existing ecosystems, with a view to identifying those aspects that may be most subject to change in the future.


North America West Coast Latent Heat Flux Western Coast Cloud Water 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1996

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  • Richard G. Lawford

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