The giant uplifted pyramid-like structures that emerged out of land and water naturally, what do you call them? They are mountains. A mountain with its huge structure can affect the weather, climate, and topography of a particular area. However, plants, animals, and human beings can thrive in the extreme conditions of these mountains. The formation of rain and moisture becomes important in understanding how do mountains affect dry areas like Nevada. Continue reading to know more about the role of mountains in the world and also rain shadows.
1. How do Mountains affect Precipitation?
Mountains affect precipitation due to their elevated structure. The air surrounding the lower part of the mountains becomes thinner in the uppermost part. As a result, the chances of water getting evaporated are reduced. Condensation of the water in the atmosphere leads to rain or precipitation. (See 16 Snowing in the Mountains Facts)
2. How do Mountains affect Moisture?
The moisture content in the upper levels of the atmosphere is locked in the atmosphere. The air that moves downwards becomes hot and extremely dry. This way, the presence of mountains restricts the moisture content on the other side. You might wonder, how do mountains affect dry areas like Nevada? Read the article till the end to get a complete idea about the topography. (See How is Dew Formed?)
3. How do Mountains affect the Weather?
The mountains drastically affect the weather. In the upper part of the mountains, the weather changes frequently. This is due to the difference in temperature levels. The temperature level is higher in the lower part of the mountains than in the upper part of the mountains. Due to this, precipitation is often received on a larger scale with thunder and storms. On the other hand, hotter climates are also experienced. Variations in climates and weather conditions lead to extreme cold weather when the temperature drops below −55°C. (See How are Volcanoes Distributed on the Map?)
4. How do Mountains affect the Climate of an Area?
The climate of an area is determined by the windward and the leeward side of the mountains. The windward side receives plenty of rain on this side as orographic clouds are formed here. The climate on the leeward side of the mountain is the opposite. Here, the hot and dry weather is apparent due to a decline in the rain. (See Why is Grass Wet in the Morning?)
5. How do Mountains affect Wind, Storms and Cyclones?
Before knowing how do mountains affect dry areas like Nevada, you must note that the mountains are an obstacle for the wind, storms, and cyclones. The wind loses its pressure as the air becomes thinner and shallower up the slopes. Soon, the rocky path of the mountain blocks the wind from entering the other side.
- In the case of storms, the force of the wind would determine how mountains affect them. Must read about the 8 Sand Storms Facts.
- If it is a rainstorm, then the mountain blocks most of the rainfall, and chances are that the storm will pass without causing heavy blockades on the leeward side. It also depends on the altitude and the width of the mountain. If the mountain is wider, then the storm cannot pass through.
- Cyclones are horrific to deal with. The orography of the mountains can block the circulation of the storm. The swiftness of the cyclone often disturbs the surface of the mountains, but the mountains block the airflow and cyclone’s circulation. (See Is the Eye of a Hurricane Calm?)
6. What is the Rain Shadow Effect?
This effect is seen in the areas where they are formed. This region lies on the mountain’s opposite side, where rainfall is not received. This effect is noticed in the east if the wind flows from the west and vice versa. Interestingly, this effect leads to different terrain and topography in that area compared to the side of the mountain where the wind strikes the mountain. In the central region of Myanmar, there are the Arakan Mountains which exhibit this effect. (See What is the Biggest Thing on Earth?)
7. What causes a Rain Shadow?
The evaporation of seawater allows the sea breeze to travel as winds towards the mountains. The air that travels from the lower level of the mountain is warm and moist. As the air moves upwards, the level of temperature decreases. Gradually, the air pressure reduces, and the moisture content in the air becomes exhausted. As soon as it reaches the upper part of the mountains, the air cools down and undergoes condensation, leading to rain formation.
When it rains on one side of the mountain, the moisture content in the air dries up. As a result, this air travels downwards through the other side. Due to the reduced moisture content in the air, this area becomes extremely barren with a hot climate. The shadow of the dry area that is noticed in this part is termed the rain shadow. (See Why the Sky Colour is Blue?)
8. What is Rain Shadow area?
The land affected by a dry climate due to the presence of mountains can be termed a rain shadow area. The Judean desert is an example of this effect. In this area, the Judean hills block the wind and cause dryness in the other parts of the mountains affecting the desert. Another example is the Himalayan range which causes a dry atmosphere in the Gobi Desert and the Tibetan Plateau. Nevada in the USA also exhibits this phenomenon. (See Hottest Desert in the World)
9. Which side of Mountains remains relatively dry?
The mountains are divided into two regions based on wind flow. The region which lies on the part where the wind approaches the mountain is the windward side. On the other hand, the region on the opposite side is termed the leeward side. The leeward side is relatively dry compared to the windward side. (See What is the Main Source of Water?)
10. Why is the Leeward side of a Mountain dry?
The leeward side of the mountain receives negligible rainfall compared to the windward region. The orographic clouds on the windward side get dissipated when the precipitation occurs. After this, the wind passes through the leeward side with low moisture content. This makes the leeward side of the mountain drier than the windward side. To better understand how do mountains affect dry areas like Nevada, you need to be aware of the windward and leeward sides of mountains. (See Why is Europe called the Peninsula of Peninsulas?)
11. Why does the Windward side of this Mountain have a Wet Climate?
The trade winds from the Northern Hemisphere and the westerly winds from the Southern Hemisphere are major winds that affect the windward side. These winds are termed prevailing winds. As the wind rises and cools, it causes rain on this side. This is because the tendency to evaporate decreases as you go upwards in a mountain.
Due to this, the air pressure decreases, and the moisture content reduces to form water droplets. These water droplets fall on the earth in the form of rain. Now in this context, you might have heard about the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the USA and how do mountains affect dry areas like Nevada is not completely answered yet. Read the following section to know about it. (See How many Colors are in the Rainbow?)
12. How do Mountains affect dry areas like Nevada?
In California, the Saline Valley experiences a comparatively dry climate. The Mountain range of Nevada blocks the wind from traveling to the side of this valley. The Cascade Mountains of Oregon cause this effect on these mountains. The prevailing westerly wind cools down at the top of the mountain, and the leeward side becomes dry due to the moisture absorption by the downward flowing wind. This causes the area to be drier in the Saline Valley. (See What is the Northern Most State in the U.S.?)
During summer seasons, the Pacific High anticyclone causes the dry wind to travel across this valley, causing an extremely hot and dry atmosphere. Various species of birds and animals are noted in the western region of Nevada. The population of American Indians in the region is also significant. All these geographical reasons are the answer to how do mountains affect dry areas like Nevada and other surrounding places. (See What is the Difference Between a Sea and Ocean?)