Tenerife’s geography and climate

Geography

The oldest mountain ranges in Tenerife rose from the Atlantic Ocean by volcanic eruption which gave birth to the island around twelve million years ago. The island as it is today was formed three million years ago by the fusion of three different islands made up of the mountain ranges of Anaga, Teno and Valle de San Lorenzo, due to volcanic activity from Teide. The volcano is visible from most parts of the island today, and the crater is 17 km long at some points.

Geology

Tenerife is a rugged and volcanic island sculpted by successive eruptions throughout its history. There are four historically recorded volcanic eruptions, none of which has led to casualties. The first occurred in 1704, when the Arafo, Fasnia and Siete Fuentes volcanoes erupted simultaneously. Two years later, in 1706, the greatest eruption occurred at Trevejo. This volcano produced great quantities of lava which buried the city and port of Garachico. The last eruption of the 18th century happened in 1798 at Cañadas de Teide, in Chahorra. Finally, and most recently, in 1909 the Chinyero volcano, in the municipality ofSantiago del Teide, erupted.

The island is located between 28° and 29° N and the 16° and 17° meridian. It is situated north of theTropic of Cancer, occupying a central position between the other Canary Islands of Gran Canaria, La Gomera and La Palma. The island is about 300 km (186 mi) from the African coast, and approximately 1,000 km (621 mi) from the Iberian Peninsula. Tenerife is the largest island of the Canary Islands archipelago, with a surface area of 2,034.38 km2 (785 sq mi) and the longest coastline amounting to 342 km (213 mi).

In addition, the highest point, Mount Teide, with an elevation of 3,718 m (12,198 ft) above sea level is the highest point in all of Spain. It comprises about 200 small barren islets or large rocks including Roques de Anaga, Roque de Garachico, and Fasnia adding a further 213,835 m2 (2,301,701 sq ft) to the total area.

                                                                                                                            Formation of Tenerife

Orography and landscape

The uneven and steep orography of the island and its variety of climates has resulted in a diversity of landscapes and geographical and geological formations, from the Parque Nacional del Teide with its extensive pine forests, juxtaposed against the volcanic landscape at the summit of Teide and Malpaís de Güímar, to the Acantilados de Los Gigantes (Cliffs of the Giants) with its vertical precipices. Semidesert areas exist in the south with drought-resistant plants. Other areas range from those protected and enclosed in mountains such as Montaña Roja and Montaña Pelada, the valleys and forests with subtropical vegetation and climate, to those with deep gorges and precipices such as at Anaga and Teno.

    .

                                                                                                          Güímar’s Malpaís (badlands)

Massifs

     

                                                                                                                    View of Anaga massif
                                                                                                
The Anaga massif (Macizo de Anaga), at the northeastern end of the island, has an irregular and rugged topographical profile where, despite its generally modest elevations, the Cruz de Taborno reaches a height of 1,024 metres. Due to the age of its material (5.7 million years), its deep erosive processes, and the dense network of dikes piercing the massif, its surface exposes numerous outcroppings of both phonolitic and trachytic origin. A large number of steep-walled gorges are present, penetrating deeply into the terrain. Vertical cuts dominate the Anagan coast, with infrequent beaches of rocks or black sand between them; the few that exist generally coincide with the mouths of gorges.
The Teno massif (Macizo de Teno) is located on the northwestern edge of the island. Like Anaga, it includes an area of outcroppings and deep gorges formed by erosion. However, the materials here are older (about 7.4 million years old). Mount Gala represents its highest elevation at 1342 metres. The most unusual landscape of this massif is found on its southern coast, where the Acantilados de Los Gigantes (“Cliffs of the Giants”) present vertical walls reaching heights of 500 metres in some places.

                                                                                                                                 Teno massif

The Adeje massif (Macizo de Adeje) is situated on the southern tip of the island. Its main landmark is the Roque del Conde (“Count’s Rock”), with an elevation of 1001 metres. This massif is not as impressive as the others due to its diminished initial structure, since in addition to with the site’s greater geologic age it has experienced severe erosion of its material, thereby losing its original appearance and extent.

Valleys and ravines

Valleys are another of the island’s features. The most important are Valle de La Orotava and Valle de Güímar, both formed by the mass sliding of great quantities of material towards the sea, creating a depression of the land. Other valleys tend to be between hills formed by deposits of sediments from nearby slopes, or simply wide ravines which in their evolution have become typical valleys.

Tenerife has a large number of ravines, which are a characteristic element of the landscape, caused by erosion from surface runoff over a long period. Notable ravines include Ruiz, Fasnia and Güímar, Infierno, and Erques, all of which have been designated protected natural areas by Canarian institutions.

File:Orotavatal.jpgValley of La Orotava

Coastline

The coasts of Tenerife are typically rugged and steep, particularly on the north of the island. However, the island has 67.14 kilometers of beaches, such as the one at El Médano, surpassed only in this respect by the island of Fuerteventura. On the northern coast are frequent pebble beaches with black sand, while on the south and south-west coast of the island, the beaches has sand typically much finer and clearer with lighter tones

File:Las Teresitas2a.jpg

Playa of Las Teresitas, San Andrés

Climate

Tenerife is known internationally as the “Island of Eternal Spring” (Isla de la Eterna Primavera).[38] The island, being on a latitude of the Sahara Desert, enjoys a warm climate year-round with an average of 20° – 22 °C in the winter and 26° – 28 °C in the summer and high sunshine totals. The moderate climate of Tenerife is controlled to a great extent by the tradewinds, whose humidity, principally, is condensed over the north and northeast of the island, creating cloud banks that range between 600 and 1,800 meters in height. The cold sea currents of the Canary Islands, also have a cooling effect on the coasts and its beaches and the topography of the landscape plays a role in climatic differences on the island with its many valleys.

Major climatic contrasts on the island are highly evident especially during the winter months when it is possible to enjoy the warm sunshine on the coast and experience snow within just miles, 3000 metres above sea level on Teide.[33] There are also major contrasts at low altitude, where the climate ranges from arid (Köppen BWh) on the southeastern side represented by Santa Cruz de Tenerife toMediterranean (Csa/Csb) on the northwestern side in Buenaventura del Norte and La Orotava.[39]

The north and the south of Tenerife similarly have different climatic characteristics. The windward northwestern side of the island receives 73% of all precipitation on the island, and the relative humidity of the air is superior and the insolation inferior. The pluviometric maximums are registered on the windward side at an average altitude of between 1,000 and 1,200 metres, almost exclusively in the La Orotava mountain range.[33] However, although climatic differences in rainfall and sunshine on the island exist, overall annual precipitation is low and the summer months from May to September are normally completely dry. Rainfall, akin to Southern California, can also be extremely erratic from one year to another.File:Puertodelacruztf.JPGPuerto de la Cruz, in the North, during winter, featuring background snowy mountains

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