Student Activities

Aspect, Treeline, and Climate

Overall Rating

Add your review
Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade


In this activity, students will learn about the factors that determine the location of the treeline in different locations in the world. The elevation of treeline is affected by the combined effects of snowpack depth, minimum winter temperatures, aspect, and soil moisture conditions. Treeline varies by latitude, but is also affected by whether it is an arid, temperate, or tropical climate. In addition, in arid regions, aspect and elevation affects soil moisture conditions and determines where the transition from desert to forest occurs on sky islands. In addition, human impacts such as grazing and fires can impact the elevation of treeline.

  • Treeline- The elevation in a mountainous region above which trees do not grow. The northern or southern latitude beyond which trees do not grow.
  • Sky Island- Mountains in ranges isolated by valleys in which other ecosystems are located. As a result, the mountain ecosystems are isolated from each other, and species can develop in parallel, as on island groups such as the Galápagos Islands.
  • Aspect - position facing or commanding a given direction; exposure
  • Snowpack- The seasonal accumulation of snow in the winter that is available for melting in the spring and summer.

Additional Resources



Download Activity Materials

Download Aspect, Treeline, and Climate powerpoint

Download Predicting Treeline: Student Edition

Download Predicting Treeline: Teacher Key

Last updated: October 2, 2015