To understand life of flora and fauna of any part of the Earth, you must first check the terms of the geographical environment. Because every specie of flora or fauna in this environment has its own “house”, which corresponds to its biological requirements. It’s know, for example, beech feels good in the middle-mountains of the Carpathians, where a lot of rain and soft climate, and there is no sign of it in forest-steppe zone of Ukraine with warm, dry summers. There are green groves that are perfectly adapted to the climate of Forest-steppe.
It should be pointed out, that the nature of the mountainous regions climate significantly differ from the plains. The higher mountains are, the more noticeable the difference. Relief of mountains affects the strength and direction of the wind, the distribution of moisture and heat, snow melting and in general on vegetation. It is known, that the windward slopes are wetter than backwind, the south warmer than the north, first have oak forests, the second – beech, spruce or fir. In the foothills the climate softens and in deep in the highlands becomes more continental.
The climate of the Carpathians is determined primarily by the geographical location of mountains, their height above sea and topography. In the northeast the Carpathian arc steppe borders with steppe zone of Eastern Europe. On the one hand –there is Ukrainian forest-steppe, on the other – Hungarian “empty”. They affect the Carpathians by their sub continental climate. The impact of the Hungarian steppe zone is most clearly manifested in the Zakarpattya. Here summers are much warmer than in the Prykarpattya. And this effects the vegetation. Climatologists refer to Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains as to the Atlantic continental climate zone, which is characterizes by western winds, anticyclone weather regime and continental climate temperate.
Carpathians belong to the humid mountain regions. They are lying on the western and southern air currents that carry a significant amount of moisture from the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Depending on the height and position of mountain annual ranges are from 700 to 1600 mm. For example, in Uzhgorod it’s 805 mm, Mykulychyn – 881 mm, and at the meadow Pozhyzhevska – 1593 mm. The plains and foothills receiving an average of 700-800 mm a year, mid mountains – 800-1000 mm and high mountains – over 1000 mm of rain. As you can see, the amount of moisture increases with altitude. However, it should be kept in mind that the spatial distribution of precipitation largely depends on the geomorphological structure of the mountains. Southwest mega hills in relation to the winds that carry moisture are windward and north-east – backwind. Therefore, in all seasons they are the first to receive more moisture. For every 100 meters of altitude on the southwestern slopes (Transcarpathia) precipitation increases by 12 percent. In the north-eastern slopes (Carpathian) in the warm season – by 7%, and in the cold period of time – 16%. The most rain is in the summer months – June, July, August, which have from 33 to 44 percent of annual precipitation. The natural vegetation in wet Carpathian area has the most important role for water regulation.
Beech, fir forests and elfin reliably protect hillsides from water erosion. By it’s root system, like hutsul purse, they surround slopes and transfer runoff water in underground. Even the most advanced technical facilities can not perform this hydrological role of forests. Carpathian beech delay 25 percent of all annual rainfall on their mighty crowns, and fires even more – up to 37 percent. Western air currents carry over 20 cubic kilometers of water each year in the eastern region.
The mountains, as the sea, like the brave and cautious. After all, there are times when mountain weather restless, violent and even treacherous. If you are not familiar with its quirks, better do not be tempted to travel.
Winter and early spring, perhaps are the most dangerous are avalanches. So many brave but reckless, they hid under the weight of snow that breaks from the slopes with high speed and takes everything on its way – centuries-fir and beech, which survived the terrible winds and storms, shepherds’ restaurants. It happened in 1929 on Goverla, in 1932 on Kvasy Menchul, in the postwar years on the northern slopes of Svydovets array and Petros. So may happen elsewhere.
Under what circumstances and when avalanches appear, can we predict the time of their shifts, how to deal with this natural disaster? Avalanches are a very dangerous natural phenomenon that has not yet been studied completely. They are often in the Alps, the Caucasus, in Central Asia. There are more than two hundred avalanche tracts in the Carpathians. The volume of the largest avalanches is 300 thousand cubic meters of mass.
There are dry winter avalanche, spring wet and mixed. Avalanches move with great speed – 10-30 meters, and dust-like – 80-100 meters per second. One of these avalanches of about 200 thousand cubic meters, happened in winter 1968 on the northern slopes and meadows of Pozhyzhevska and destroyed spruce woodlands within 800 meters. Most avalanche-alarmed mountains are Chornogora, Svydovets, Gorgan, Pip Ivan Maramorosky. Ther are changes in the valleys and snow on polonyna (meadows) Krasna, Borzhava, Rivna.
The main cause for avalanches is the loss of a large amount of snow in the winter. A hard precipitation in the highlands can be from 25 to 40 per cent of the total. A critical condition occurs when a sudden growth snow to 30 cm.
Particularly threatening northeastern slopes subalpine and alpine vegetation zones in areas of glacial cars, where the dominant western and south-westerly winds bring large masses of snow. When slopes are 30° curled these masses can hold on, start falling down at high speed. On the slopes without trees, shrubs and rock avalanche can also be formed there. Therefore, it is important to keep the vegetation in avalanche tract.
The mountains can have favorable weather conditions to snow shifting there. In neighboring to Ukrainian Carpathians Slovakian Tatras in 1909 during one day 600 large avalanches were recorded. The best fight against avalanches is planting slopes by tree species – larch, cedar, beech, fir. Great protective role can be done the overgrown pine, alder, juniper, ash. They must be protected.
How nice it is on hot summer days to feel cool, rich with aroma of mountain flowers and healing resin spruce mountain valley wind. It is refreshing and encouraging, though elevates their invisible wings.
In the mountains, wind is always restlessly changing: mild or terrible. It is a good companion, and the enemy. Does the wind in the Carpathians have its directions, or maybe it is always different, chaotic? It is established that the wind direction depend on the total atmospheric circulation and relief. Terms of atmospheric circulation in Carpathians determined by western transfer of air masses in the troposphere and their position relative to the Azores and Siberian highs and Icelandic, and Mediterranean zones of reduced pressure. In summer and spring, less in winter, north-western Atlantic cyclones go above the Carpathians Mediterranean, which are associated with rain and storms, large snowfalls and thaws. In the Carpathian mountain site also paths of different anticyclones are crossed, accompanied by clear cloudless weather. Very cold Siberian anticyclone from the east dominates in winter, in summer – Western Azores anticyclone.
Mountain building of Carpathians has a significant impact on wind conditions. The movement of winds in the lower forest zone is mainly determined by the direction of the mountain valleys. In Transcarpathia northern winds prevail in spring, south – in fall and winter. Only at the height of 1200-1500 meters westerly winds are dominant during the warmer months. In the cold season easterly winds are dominated.
In the Carpathian region such winds dominate: northwestern, western and south-western. The mountainous terrain and forests of the Carpathians reduce wind speed, which on average ranges between 3-4 meters per second. But while during anticyclones its speed can be 25-30 meters and gust – even 40 meters per second.
The force of the wind increases with height above sea level. It is more in the saddle and mountain ridges. Anti-wind element is given the special attention. To increase the resilience of forests against windfalls, they create mixed and deciduous planting pin. Uneven-aged forests are more stable than even-aged. The most resistant to wind invasion are mixed oak-beech, beech-fir, spruce-beech, spruce-fir-beech forests. They can withstand a wind speed of 26-28 meters per second. Net oak, beech or fir forests resistant to wind speed of about 23 meters, and clean coeval spruce – only 17 meters per second. Tens of thousands of hectares of already mixed green youth culture. They are not afraid of wind element on Carpathian mountain slopes.