Topography, Climate and Soils

  • Gary Brown
  • Bruno A. Mies
Part of the Plant and Vegetation book series (PAVE, volume 7)


The Socotra Archipelago is located in the north-western part of the Indian Ocean, close to the Horn of Africa. Socotra itself (ca. 3,600 km2) can be divided into three main topographical regions: (1) the granitic Hagghier mountains; (2) limestone plateaus, which occur between 300 and 700 m and occupy by far the largest part of the island; and (3) coastal plains. The arid tropical climate of Socotra is characterised by pronounced seasonal, altitudinal, spatial and inter-annual variability, with the seasonally reversing monsoons exerting a major influence on weather patterns. The overall arid macroclimate is also greatly modified by the diverse topography of the island and the extent of cloud cover. Rainfall is the chief form of available water at the lower elevations, either directly or indirectly through surface and subsurface redistribution. However, at higher altitudes, where forest is developed, fog and mist provide an important input of moisture, substantially augmenting the amount of plant-available water. Due to the arid nature of the climate, soils are poorly developed over much of the island. Pedogenesis involving chemical processes and the synthesis of organic matter is mainly restricted to the upper mesic montane zone where there is dense vegetation cover and the climate is more humid.


Cloud Cover Arid Desert Dense Vegetation Cover Limestone Plateau African Mainland 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Brown
    • 1
  • Bruno A. Mies
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology College of ScienceSultan Qaboos UniversityMuscatOman
  2. 2.Department of BotanyUniversitäet Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

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