Question asked by donna:

How often does it rain in the rainforest?

Answer by Dr Ioannis Miaoulis:

Whether the rainforest is temperate or tropical, the frequency of rain depends on a variety of variables including geography, elevation, and ocean currents. While you can find rain almost anytime, it tends to rain seasonally — four to six months a year — depending on the location and microclimates within the region. Seasons can also vary in length and from year to year. Minimally, it rains from 60 – 100 inches a year but it can rain up to 400 inches a year.

From 40% to 75% of all species on Earth are indigenous to the rainforest. Tropical rainforests are found near the Equator between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, in southeast Asia, northeastern Australia, South America, Central America, and on many Pacific Islands. Temperate rainforests are found in North America’s Pacific Northwest and the British Columbia coast, in parts of Europe, East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

You will also find an indoor rainforest at the Museum of Science, Boston! Our Butterfly Garden, which maintains a tropical 80°  Fahrenheit and 80% humidity year-round, recreates the tropical rainforest with steam generators that pump moisture in the air. The conservatory features about 200 butterflies. As many as 10 species found in New England and over 80 other species from Ecuador, Costa Rica, Philippines, Africa, and Malaysia flutter about, drinking nectar from feeding stations, even landing on visitors’ shoulders. The conservatory’s rainforest butterflies include the Malay Lacewing, the Common Morpho, the Hacales Longwing, the Paper Kite, and the Batwing. They are joined elsewhere in the Museum by a Brazilian Rainbow Boa Constrictor, three Cotton-top Tamarins, two Prehensile Skinks (lizards), and many Poison Dart Frogs, also from the rainforest and part of the Museum’s public presentations or exhibits.

From February 13 – May 2009, in the Frogs: A Chorus of Colors exhibit, visitors can explore the diversity among frog species including several from the rainforest such as the Smokey Jungle Frog and the Golden Poison Frog. Our Mugar Omni Theater audiences can also follow the Amazon River from the high Andes through the rainforest and into the Amazon basin. The source of 20% of the world’s river flow, the Amazon is home to more than 5,000 fish species and 60,000 plant species. The film portrays two “medicine men” searching for the plants’ medicinal properties and curative uses.

Rainforests play a critical role in the health of the planet but their future is at risk. Subjected to mining, heavy logging, and slash and burn agriculture, the area covered by rainforests around the world is shrinking.