Life

The Curious Case of Banks Peninsula: New Zealand’s Half-Trees

Far across the ocean, in New Zealand, there is Banks Peninsula. It is rich in species and has a long and narrow coastline, making it a world-famous tourist destination. Tireless waves beat against the cliffs day after day, and the water flows through the rocks, forming spectacular sea erosion landforms over time. Every summer when the vegetation is lush, tourists who love outdoor travel come here from all over the world to participate in recreational activities such as hiking and surfing, or to observe rare birds and marine animals.

What makes Banks Peninsula famous around the world is the unique vegetation phenomenon on the island-half tree.

Half-tree, as the name suggests, the tree only has branches and leaves on one side. From a distance, it seems that the other half has been cut off. On Banks Peninsula, not just one or one tree has only half its branches and leaves, but all the trees are growing towards the same side. Tall trees are unwilling to bend their spines and turn into straight “toothbrushes”. However, low trees have different postures and tilt angles, just like alpacas with arbitrary hairstyles.

How did this unique scene come to be? It turns out that half of all the trees are the work of strong one-way winds. Due to the extremely special geographical location of Banks Peninsula, located at about 40° south latitude, no matter how the air pressure belt and wind belt change with the seasons, the island will only be controlled by the prevailing westerly belt, and due to the influence of the geostrophic deflection force of the southern hemisphere, Therefore, the northwest wind only blows on Banks Peninsula all year round.

Of course, aside from the direction of the wind, Banks Peninsula is also one of the windiest places on Earth. What is the reason for this? We turn our attention to the entire New Zealand Peninsula. New Zealand is an isolated island located between the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean. The intersection of the two oceans forms a strong updraft, and the airflow will accelerate when flowing through the ocean. Because the New Zealand Peninsula is surrounded by The sea and land area are small. After the wind from the ocean enters the peninsula, it drives straight in, gets stronger and stronger, and eventually turns into a strong wind.

The trees on Banks Peninsula have been affected by strong one-way winds for many years, and have slowly changed. The branches and leaves have adjusted their growth direction with the direction of the wind, unexpectedly creating the wonderful “wind direction tree” scene in the world.

So why does this not exist in other areas at the same latitude as Banks Peninsula? It is still due to the special geographical conditions of the New Zealand peninsula. Its land area is much smaller than the ocean area. The difference in thermal properties between sea and land is small, and it is not very affected by the monsoon. At the same time, the Bankes Peninsula has a lower altitude, less undulating terrain, and the wind direction is less likely to change. Simply put, there is nothing on Banks Peninsula that can influence the direction of the wind. In this way, the isolated Banks Peninsula became the only “lucky one” on the vast sea.

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