Steppe

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Two types of steppes, classified by climate:
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The Great Eurasian Steppe (highlighted in on the map), acted as a passageway for cultures across the vast Eurasian landmass.

In physical geography, a steppe ( /stɛp/ ) is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without closed forests except near rivers and lakes. [1] Steppe biomes may include:

Contents

A steppe is usually covered with grass and shrubs, depending on the season and latitude. The term steppe climate denotes a semi-arid climate, which is encountered in regions too dry to support a forest, but not dry enough to be a desert.

Steppes are usually characterized by a semi-arid or continental [ citation needed ] climate. Extremes can be recorded in the summer of up to 45 °C (115 °F) and in winter of down to −55 °C (−65 °F). Besides this major seasonal difference, fluctuations between day and night are also very great. In both the highlands of Mongolia and northern Nevada, 30 °C (85 °F) can be reached during the day with sub-freezing readings at night.

Steppes average 250–500 mm (10–20 in) of annual precipitation and feature hot summers and cold winters when located in mid-latitudes. In addition to the precipitation level, its combination with potential evapotranspiration defines a steppe climate.

Classification

Steppe can be classified by climate: [2]

It can also be classified by vegetation type, e.g. shrub-steppe and alpine-steppe.

Cold steppe

The world's largest steppe region, often referred to as "the Great Steppe", is found in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and neighbouring countries stretching from Ukraine in the west through Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the Altai, Koppet Dag and Tian Shan ranges in China. The Eurasian Steppe is speculated by David W. Anthony to have had a role in the spread of the horse, the wheel and Indo-European languages. [3] In the Eurasian steppe, soils often consist of chernozem.

The inner parts of Anatolia in Turkey, Central Anatolia and East Anatolia in particular and also some parts of Southeast Anatolia, as well as much of Armenia and Iran are largely dominated by cold steppe.

The Pannonian Plain is another steppe region in Central Europe, centered in Hungary but also including portions of Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria. Another large steppe area (prairie) is located in the central United States, western Canada and the northern part of Mexico. The shortgrass prairie steppe is the westernmost part of the Great Plains region. The Columbia Plateau in southern British Columbia, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington state, is an example of a steppe region in North America outside of the Great Plains.

In South America, cold steppe can be found in Patagonia and much of the high elevation regions east of the southern Andes.

Relatively small steppe areas can be found in the interior of the South Island of New Zealand.

In Australia, a moderately sized temperate steppe region exists in the northern and northwest regions of Victoria, extending to the southern and mid regions of New South Wales. This area borders the semi-arid and arid Australian Outback which is found farther inland on the continent.

Subtropical steppe

In Europe, some Mediterranean areas have a steppe-like vegetation, such as central Sicily in Italy, southern Portugal, parts of Greece in the southern Athens area, [4] and central-eastern Spain, especially the southeastern coast (around Murcia), and places cut off from adequate moisture due to rain shadow effects such as Zaragoza.

In Asia, a subtropical steppe can be found in semi-arid lands that fringe the Thar Desert of the Indian subcontinent as well as much of the Deccan Plateau in the rain shadow of the Western Ghats, and the Badia of the Levant.

In Australia, subtropical steppe can be found in a belt surrounding the most severe deserts of the continent and around the Musgrave Ranges.

In North America this environment is typical of transition areas between zones with a Mediterranean climate and true deserts, such as Reno, Nevada, the inner part of California, and much of western Texas and adjacent areas in Mexico.

See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands</span> Terrestrial biome

Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands is a terrestrial biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The predominant vegetation in this biome consists of grass and/or shrubs. The climate is temperate and ranges from semi-arid to semi-humid. The habitat type differs from tropical grasslands in the annual temperature regime as well as the types of species found here.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grassland</span> Area with vegetation dominated by grasses

A grassland is an area where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae). However, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other herbs. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica and are found in most ecoregions of the Earth. Furthermore, grasslands are one of the largest biomes on Earth and dominate the landscape worldwide. There are different types of grasslands: natural grasslands, semi-natural grasslands, and agricultural grasslands. They cover 31–69% of the Earth's land area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Savanna</span> Mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem

A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland-grassland ecosystem characterised by the trees being sufficiently widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of grasses. According to Britannica, there exists four savanna forms; savanna woodland where trees and shrubs form a light canopy, tree savanna with scattered trees and shrubs, shrub savanna with distributed shrubs, and grass savanna where trees and shrubs are mostly nonexistent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deserts and xeric shrublands</span> Habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands</span> Terrestrial habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands is a terrestrial biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The biome is dominated by grass and/or shrubs located in semi-arid to semi-humid climate regions of subtropical and tropical latitudes. Tropical grasslands are mainly found between 5 degrees and 20 degrees in both North and south of the Equator.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Semi-arid climate</span> Climate with precipitation below potential evapotranspiration

A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is a dry climate sub-type. It is located on regions that receive precipitation below potential evapotranspiration, but not as low as a desert climate. There are different kinds of semi-arid climates, depending on variables such as temperature, and they give rise to different biomes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rangeland</span> Biomes which can be grazed by animals or livestock (grasslands, woodlands, prairies, etc)

Rangelands are grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. Types of rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and shrublands, woodlands, savannas, chaparrals, steppes, and tundras. Rangelands do not include forests lacking grazable understory vegetation, barren desert, farmland, or land covered by solid rock, concrete and/or glaciers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kazakh Steppe</span> Steppe region in Kazakhstan

The Kazakh Steppe, also called the Great Dala, is a vast region of open grassland in Central Asia, covering areas in northern Kazakhstan and adjacent areas of Russia. It lies east of the Pontic–Caspian steppe and west of the Emin Valley steppe, with which it forms the central and western part of the Eurasian steppe. The Kazakh Steppe is an ecoregion of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome in the Palearctic realm. Before the mid-19th century, it was called the Kirghiz steppe, 'Kirghiz' being an old Russian word for the Kazakhs.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central Anatolia Region</span> Region in Turkey

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mongolian–Manchurian grassland</span> Ecoregion in East Asia

The Mongolian-Manchurian grassland, also known as the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe or Gobi-Manchurian steppe, in the temperate grassland biome, is an ecoregion in East Asia covering parts of Mongolia, the Chinese Autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, and Northeast China.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub</span> Habitat defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature

Mediterranean forests, woodlands and scrub is a biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The biome is generally characterized by dry summers and rainy winters, although in some areas rainfall may be uniform. Summers are typically hot in low-lying inland locations but can be cool near colder seas. Winters are typically mild to cool in low-lying locations but can be cold in inland and higher locations. All these ecoregions are highly distinctive, collectively harboring 10% of the Earth's plant species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biogeographic classification of India</span>

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Vegetation classification is the process of classifying and mapping the vegetation over an area of the Earth's surface. Vegetation classification is often performed by state based agencies as part of land use, resource and environmental management. Many different methods of vegetation classification have been used. In general, there has been a shift from structural classification used by forestry for the mapping of timber resources, to floristic community mapping for biodiversity management. Whereas older forestry-based schemes considered factors such as height, species and density of the woody canopy, floristic community mapping shifts the emphasis onto ecological factors such as climate, soil type and floristic associations. Classification mapping is usually now done using geographic information systems (GIS) software.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central Anatolian steppe</span> Turkish ecoregion

The Central Anatolian steppe is a Palearctic ecoregion in the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. It covers an area of 24,934 km2.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">East European forest steppe</span>

The East European forest steppe ecoregion is a patchwork of broadleaf forest stands and grasslands (steppe) that stretches 2,100 km across Eastern Europe from the Ural Mountains in Ural, through Povolzhye, Central Russia to the middle of Ukraine. There are isolated areas of similar character off the western end in eastern Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria.

References

  1. Compare: Chibilyov, Alexander (2002). "Steppe and Forest-steppe". In Shahgedanova, Maria (ed.). The Physical Geography of Northern Eurasia. Oxford regional environments. Vol. 3 (reprint ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press (published 2003). p. 248. ISBN   9780198233848 . Retrieved 30 January 2020. There are many definitions of steppes. For example, Allan (1946) provides fifty-four definitions of this term. Stamp and Clark (1979) define steppes as 'mid-latitude areas dominated by herbaceous vegetation and termed locally steppes, prairies, pampas, high veldts, downland, etc.'
  2. 1 2 "Ecoregions of the United States-Ecological Subregions of the United States". fs.usda.gov. U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture . Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  3. Anthony, David W. (15 August 2010) [2007]. The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World (reprint ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press (published 2010). p. 240. ISBN   9780691148182 . Retrieved 12 June 2022. [...] the critical era when innovative Proto-Indo-European dialects began to spread across the steppes.
  4. "Hellinikon". HNMS.gr. Greece: Hellenic National Meteorological Service. Archived from the original on 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2013-09-08.

Sources