MAR 13, 2017 09:01 AM PDT

How do rain forests form?

2 7 266

"Hahai no ka ua i ka ulula'au" is a Hawaiian saying which means "The rains follows after the forest." This refers the phenomena that rain forests, because of their geographic locations with hot, humid climates, produce a positive feedback water cycle of transpiration, evaporation, and precipitation. Because the forests are constantly transpiring water into the atmosphere, more water is available for greater precipitation, which continues to drive the cycle.

But that begs the question: which came first, the rain or the forest? To answer this we have to go back into the history of plants, 130,000,000 years ago when angiosperms evolved. Angiosperms, or flowering plants, were able to grow faster than gymnosperms, which allowed them to populate all corners of the planet. Because the angiosperms were transpiring at a faster rate and emitting water into the air, they essentially created more precipitation in the areas where they were growing. Which explains why rain forests today (made up of mostly angiosperms) receive much more rain than temperate forests composed up gymnosperms - as much as a meter more each year (or about 2.5 hours of downpour every week)! So in answer to the question, the forests came first but now the cycle is so connected that both rain and the rain forests are co-dependent on the other to exist.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 08, 2018
Videos
JUL 08, 2018
They Say an Elephant Never Forgets...
They say an elephant never forgets, but is this really true? It’s a question that scientists have been trying to answer for ages, and as it turns out
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
Meet the Rare Binary Asteroid Recently Confirmed by NASA
Astronomers first became aware of an asteroid called YE5 in December of 2017, but something seemed odd about it after they were unable to discern its physi
JUL 31, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUL 31, 2018
The Gross Things That Lurk in Swimming Pools
The warmer temperatures associated with Summertime inevitably lead to more swimming pool visits, but have you ever stopped to think about the gross things
AUG 10, 2018
Videos
AUG 10, 2018
Can the Black Death Make a Comeback?
The bacterium that causes plague was never wiped out.
AUG 15, 2018
Videos
AUG 15, 2018
CBD Being Used in Stem Cell Research
CDKL5 (cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5) is a gene that is found on the X-chromosome, mutations to this gene lead to a rare genetic disorder. Scientists
AUG 17, 2018
Videos
AUG 17, 2018
Is using my computer on my lap making me infertile?
Have you ever worried about using your laptop on your lap? If you're like me, you might have wondered if all that heat coming out of your laptop's
Loading Comments...