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Old 05-24-2012, 10:54 PM
 
Location: In transition
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I've been thinking about subtropical highland climates and whether they really should be classified as subtropical. The wiki article states that La Paz is subtropical highland but is this really a misnomer? When I look at the stats, there is nothing subtropical about La Paz any more than there would be about Reykjavik or Torshavn.
Should highland climates in the tropics particularly have a different classification structure all their own which doesn't take into account other climate criteria in use by either Koeppen or Trewartha? I know that many climate maps label mountainous areas as "H" but this doesn't really do justice the differences in elevation that produce different climates.

La Paz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 05-24-2012, 11:02 PM
 
Location: Melbourne AUS
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I think it deserves the "subarctic hell hole" label.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:05 AM
 
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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I'm fine designating these type of climates subtropical, temperate, and subarctic as appropriate. "Highland" always seems kind of a lazy out given their diversity.

For me, La Paz is right at the colder edge of temperate veering towards subarctic. Certainly, in terms of temperatures, I don't think comparisons to subpolar oceanic climates are too far fetched, though the wet and dry cycle of La Paz is very tropical:

Macquarie Island - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tórshavn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Probably somewhere slightly higher up has a true subarctic climate in terms of thermal regime.
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:27 AM
 
Location: In transition
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CairoCanadian View Post
I'm fine designating these type of climates subtropical, temperate, and subarctic as appropriate. "Highland" always seems kind of a lazy out given their diversity.

For me, La Paz is right at the colder edge of temperate veering towards subarctic. Certainly, in terms of temperatures, I don't think comparisons to subpolar oceanic climates are too far fetched, though the wet and dry cycle of La Paz is very tropical:

Macquarie Island - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tórshavn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Probably somewhere slightly higher up has a true subarctic climate in terms of thermal regime.
The thing is I think it's odd to have "temperate" climates in the tropics because I associate temperate climates with seasonal temperature changes and places like La Paz don't really have that and that's why I think you can't really put them in the same category as even higher latitude oceanic climates...
So to me a place like La Paz is not tropical because it's too cold and is not temperate either because it doesn't have enough seasonal temperature change. It seems like these highland climates in the tropics should be in their own category.

Perhaps a climate like Macquarie Island should also be different entirely - hyper-oceanic tundra maybe?
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:52 AM
 
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It shouldn't be labelled subtropical. La Paz is classified as temperate or highland anyway, not subtropical, but it is a highland in a tropical area so I guess it's just easy to call it a subtropical highland. It is different from other temperate climates like London, but I don't think those places, especially when they get other names too like Oceanic and Maritime West coast, own the temperate description.

Personally I use "highland" as a description rather than "subtropical highland", but only for places in a warm area that, despite the elevation, are still liveable. Highlands at cold latitudes are just mountains, you can't really live there.

EDIT: Actually I do sometime use Subtropical highland, but I still wouldn't call an elevated place at a high latitude a highland.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:54 AM
 
Location: Newcastle NSW Australia
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The subtropical title seems to be purely a location, not the climate.
So in that sense it is a misnomer.
Most subtropical highland climates are in fact temperate.
A classic subtropical highland would be one like Toowoomba:


Toowoomba - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


I am a huge fan of climates such as this.
Yearly means are perfect and mild, and extremes of temperature do not occur as those that do at sea level, temperate latitude climates.
La Paz is cool temperate, not even mild temperate.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:58 AM
 
Location: Wellington and North of South
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La Paz temperatures have already been discussed in at least one earlier thread. Wiki and other sources invariably quote means from the airport on the Altiplano. The city stretches down from there a long way and is much warmer. I have been there and experienced the difference. After spending some days at sea level in unusually warm conditions at Arica (in an El Nino) without A/C, La Paz seemed quite refreshing.
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:24 AM
 
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Do windmills palms grow in La Paz like in NW Europe ? in this case that city could qualify as temperate, temperate/cool...
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:00 AM
 
Location: London, UK
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IMO subtropical implies no month below freezing and one month above 22°C, so no.
Highland climates are tough to classify though
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:22 AM
 
Location: Laurentia
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Well, subtropical highlands are actually temperate in terms of temperature, but they're called that because they are one grade below tropical as far as elevation goes. The description works well enough.

As for La Paz's classification, I would not call it subtropical. Subtropical highland climates include Cfb or Cwb zones. La Paz varies between a Cwc climate and an ETw climate, which is decidedly cooler. We can just call the ETw portions a tundra or alpine climate, but the Cwc is more problematic. As far as the Koeppen classification goes, it's the dry-winter version of the maritime subarctic climate. With it being far away from any ocean and having no seasonality neither maritime nor subarctic seem appropriate. However, I think "temperate subalpine" is very appropriate in this case.

So if I were writing the description I'd call it "varying from alpine to temperate subalpine (Koeppen Cwc with areas of ETw)".
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