Briefly mention the alignment of major mountain ranges of the world and explain their impact on local weather conditions, with examples. UPSC GS Paper 1 2021, 15 Marks

Q14. विश्व की प्रमुख पर्वत शृंखलाओं के संरेखण का संक्षिप्त उल्लेख कीजिए तथा उनके स्थानीय मौसम पर पड़े प्रभावों का सोदाहरण वर्णन कीजिए । (250 शब्दों में उत्तर दीजिए)

Q14. Briefly mention the alignment of major mountain ranges of the world and explain their impact on local weather conditions, with examples. (250 words) 15 Marks


Alignment of Major mountain ranges :

The Andes:(South America)

  • The Andes is the longest continental mountain range in the world.
  • The Andes is the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia with an average height of 4000 m.

Ural mountains:

  • Mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan.
  • They are formed due to Continent-Continent collision of supercontinent Laurussia with the young and weak continent of Kazakhstania.
  • Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia.
  • Since the 18th century, the mountains have been a major mineral base of Russia.

The Great Dividing Range:(Australia)

  • The Great Dividing Range, or the Eastern Highlands, is Australia’s most substantial mountain.
  • It is also known as the Australian Alps and was formed due to rifting.

The Atlas Mountains: (Africa)

  • Mountain range across the north-western stretch of Africa extending about 2,500 km (1,600 mi) through Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
  • The highest peak is Toubkal (4,165 metres) in southwestern Morocco.
  • These mountains were formed when Africa and Europe collided.

The Himalayas:(Indian Subcontinent)

  • The Himalayan range is home to the planet’s highest peaks, including the highest, Mount Everest.
  • Its western anchor, Nanga Parbat, lies just south of the northernmost bend of Indus river, its eastern anchor, Namcha Barwa, just west of the great bend of the Brahmaputra river (Tsangpo river).
  • The range varies in width from 400 kilometres in the west to 150 kilometres in the east.

The Alps: (Europe)

  • he mountains were formed as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided.
  • Extreme folding caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc (4,810 m) (French–Italian border).



Impacts of major mountain ranges on their local weather:

  • Mountains are specific ecosystems, characterised by their diversity and complexity.
  • Steep topographic, climatic and biological gradients combined with sharp seasonal contrasts favour the triggering of extreme climatic and geomorphic events, which may in turn strongly affect ecological and human environments. Eg. Deserts: Patagonian(cold).
  • Mountain populations are quite diverse in their way of life: traditional rural activities, such as agriculture, livestock grazing and forestry, coexist with mining extraction, hydropower production and tourism. Depending on the socio-economic and demographic context of each country, such activities are nowadays either declining or in full expansion.
  • 12 percent of the world’s population live in mountains, the great majority live in marginalised (physically and economically) developing countries so that any change in environmental conditions may have an impact on poverty and food security.
  • Mountains also play an important role in their adjacent lowlands: they are “water towers storing and delivering fresh water to downstream areas, and producing energy through hydropower potential.
  • However, mountain environments are “fragile”, they can be damaged by many factors such as deforestation, overgrazing by livestock, cultivation on marginal soils, and progression of urbanisation, all of which may result in(1) a rapid degradation of biodiversity and water resources, and (2) an increase in natural hazards, hence putting adjacent populations at risk.

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