More specifically, I'm trying to work out climate analogues for my farm. It's at 5200-6200ft in South India. My area is a bit too small for the Köppen Map to correctly reveal patterns.

I'll be getting a weather station etc. soon, but it'll take a few months to a year before I have enough data to work with. But right now I have some experimental planting to do, so..

My question is, if you were at around 5800ft in a tropical/subtropical region of India, would the climate then be more like a temperate zone or an alpine climate, but with monsoons?

To put it another way, my question has a general aspect to it too, which is: what happens to a tropical zone as the land increases in elevation? Does it become more "temperate" or "alpine" for all practical purposes? And what "tropical" factors remain in effect (for example, sunlight, I'm guessing)?

If I sound confused about how this stuff works, I would love if someone could direct me to a guide of some kind too!

Further information: It's in the Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu, in a region called Bengal Mattam. There's a small stream that runs through the farm, right at the border, all along the lowest point of our farm/the hillside. The stream then turns sharply and in one kilometer from that turning point, empties into an irregularly shaped reservoir, which is about 669 meters from one end to other, and about 250 on two other extremes. I'm guessing that won't count for much except increase humidity and dew?

  • $\begingroup$ the land cover in the nearby region would play a significant role. Can you update the question with a state where your farm is located ? Monsoon is only seasonal and the rest of the year could be dry. But if there are local water bodies of significant area then diurnal heating may lead to clouds and evening thunder showers on a small scale esp in the mountains. All depends where you are located $\endgroup$ – gansub Jun 4 '18 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ @gansub thanks! I've added more details. There's a microclimate because the inner part of the farm is sort of nested between three hills, while a small valley in front of the farm leads to the reservoir of a Dam. Surrounded on all sides by either Shola forests or existing farms. $\endgroup$ – kladhest Jun 5 '18 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ I checked on Google Earth. I am not sure if there are any water bodies nearby. But there was a lot of greenery over that area. But if the greenery minimizes diurnal heating then you are stuck with seasonal rains. The key is the presence of water bodies (surface area greater than 20-30 sq kms distributed all along that area) $\endgroup$ – gansub Jun 5 '18 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ you can delete. That is a decent size body of water. On good days of sunlight you may see clouds if there is overnight dew on the vegetation nearby as well . You can let us know if you do. During monsoon non local clouds will visit you. But do let us know if you see clouds in the evening during the off season $\endgroup$ – gansub Jun 5 '18 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ this is a proper meteorological consulting question. You need to run some mesoscale modeling simulations as well. We can only provide some qualitative information at the most. $\endgroup$ – gansub Jun 5 '18 at 16:26

Do any of the resources here help you with historical rainfall trends for your area? Those are probably going to be a better guide than any approximation based on your latitude, altitude, and terrain as to what you can grow. I say this because at 5800ft the mountains are going to control your weather way more than a lot of other factors that are important at sea level.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer, @Ash. Those resources don't help much, actually, I've tried it before. What I ended up doing is using the nearest weather station data (which is 15kms away, and at a slightly higher elevation). But that isn't helping much because the hills have far too many microclimates. My question has a generalist aspect to it, which is: what happens to a tropical zone as the land increases in elevation? Does it become more "temperate" or "alpine" for all practical purposes? $\endgroup$ – kladhest Jun 5 '18 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ I'd expect that it stays tropical, or monsoon, in terms of still having very little seasonality in terms of temperature. Average temperatures will decrease with elevation and frost nights increase in frequency, subject to frost drainage. I'd also expect to see rainfall increase on windward slopes and decrease on the leeward side. So a more alpine temperature environment but at that elevation you're low enough that low clouds don't bypass you and yet high enough to start seeing appreciable Orographic Rainfall effects. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jun 5 '18 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ So, in theory, even in a tropical zone, as long as the elevation is high enough and the rainfall doesn't destroy flowers etc. I would be able to grow things that are ideally suited to a subtropical, temperate or more alpine climate? What would be the closest general analogue, or is it completely dependent on the microclimate? $\endgroup$ – kladhest Jun 5 '18 at 13:58

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