Latitude/Longitude:35.68896, -83.50195 Elevation:579 m Mean Annual Temperature:13C/55.4F Mean Annual Precipitation:1396 mm Dominant NLCD Classes:
The park normally has very high humidity and precipitation, averaging from 55 inches (1,400 mm) per year in the valleys to 85 inches (2,200 mm) per year on the peaks. This area receives more annual rainfall than anywhere else in the U.S. outside of the Pacific Northwest and parts of Alaska. Most of the park has a humid continental climate more comparable to locations much farther north, as opposed to the humid subtropical climate in the lowlands.
Elevations in the park range from 876 feet (267 m) at the mouth of Abrams Creek to 6,643 feet (2,025 m) at the summit of Clingmans Dome. Within the park a total of sixteen mountains are greater than 6,000 feet (1,829 m). The wide range of elevation mimics the latitudinal changes found throughout the entire eastern U.S.
The park is almost 95 percent forested, and almost 36 percent of it, 187,000 acres (760 km2), is estimated by the Park Service to be old growth forest with many trees that predate European settlement of the area. It is one of the largest stands of deciduous, temperate, old growth forest in North America. Over 100 species of trees grow in the park. The lower region forests are dominated by deciduous leafy trees. At higher altitudes, deciduous forests give way to coniferous trees like Fraser Fir. In addition, the park has over 1,400 flowering plant species and over 4,000 species of non-flowering plants.
Snowbird group, siltstone and sandstone. Precambrian.
USGS HUC: h06010107
Dominant Phenology Species:
Liriodendron tulipfera, Acer rubrum, Acer pensylvanicum
Mean Canopy Height:
The mean canopy height is 30'.
Loamy, skeletal, isotic, mesic. Typic Humudepts.
The dominant wind direction is northwest.
The variety of elevations, the abundant rainfall, and the presence of old growth forests give Great Smoky Mountain Park an unusual richness of biota. About 10,000 species of plants and animals are known to live in the park, and estimates as high as an additional 90,000 undocumented species may also be present. Park officials count more than 200 species of birds, 66 species of mammals, 50 species of fish, 39 species of reptiles and 43 species of amphibians, including many lungless salamanders. The park has a noteworthy black bear population, numbering at least 1,800. An experimental reintroduction of elk (
wapiti) into the park began in 2001. During the most recent ice age, the northeast-to-southwest orientation of the Appalachian mountains allowed species to migrate southward along the slopes rather than finding the mountains to be a barrier. As climate warms, many northern species are now retreating upward along the slopes and withdrawing northward, while southern species are expanding. Site-specific topics
Biodiversity along elevational gradients respond to climatic change in various ways. A key attribute in choosing Great Smoky is that it provides robust conditions to test ecological theory in the controls of biodiversity movement and change in species composition and associated ecosystem processes.
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