Have you ever wondered why clouds
|Koppen chart from here.|
|Diagram from here.|
The vegetation characteristics across elevation gradients in Hawai‘i are dependent on several factors, including, substrate, topography, precipitation, available genotypes and the fragmentation and severe modification of native vegetation, especially at lower elevations (Mederios, 1986). On hike up the mountain we were able to experience lower two climate zones mentioned above and the distinct vegetation associated with these zones. Three basic ecosystem types occur between the leeward coast and the summit of Mt. Ka‘ala. These can be distinguished by rainfall, elevation, and vegetation type. Lowland dry shrubland and grassland occurs at the lowest elevations although introduced trees are also present. Lowland dry and mesic forest, woodland and shrubland occurs further inland. At higher elevations wet forest and woodland can be found. A special type of ecosystem called tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF) occurs in the summit region and harbors many rare natives species. The ecosystems at lower elevations are dominated by introduced vegetation as a result of disturbance. Native vegetation becomes more dominant the farther one moves up the mountain. The vegetation at lower elevations in the Waianae range area of Mt Kaala is dominated by introduced tree species. Near the coast kiawe (Prosopis pallida) is frequent. Moving inland, koa haole (Leuceana leucocephala) becomes a dominant species. Along the first part of the trail to Mt Kaala itself both species can be seen. Larger silk oak trees (Grevillia robusta) can also be seen. Coffee trees (Cofea Arabica) can also be seen. Moving up the steep slope rainfall increases and disturbance decreases. Native tree species like koa (Acacia koa) and ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha) become common. The last leg of the trail moves into the cloud zone and ohia becomes the dominant tree. Olapa or lapalapa Cheirodendendron trigynum or platyphyllum) becomes more frequent. Olomea (perrotetia sanwicense) is also present. These are the dominant trees in the mosaic and bog at the summit. Also very frequent shrubs include pukiawe (Leptocophylla tameiameia). Rare plants like kolii (tremotlobelia macrostachyus are also present.
Cao, G. G., T. W. Giambelluca, D. E. Stevens, and T. A. Schroeder (2007), Inversion Variability in the Hawaiian Trade Wind Regime. J. Climate, 20, 1145–1160, doi: 10.1175/JCLI4033.1
Giambelluca, T.W. and Nullet, D. (1991) Influence of the trade-wind inversion on the climate of a leewared mountain slope in Hawai‘i , Clim Res., 1, 207-216