Mountains and Air Currents

by Jason Amores Sumpter
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mountains can have a really interesting effect on climate because they provide a physical barrier in the atmosphere, which is going to impede or, at the very least, have some effect on air flow. Now one of the really cool phenomena that can arise from a mountain is what's known as a rain shadow, and this is basically a area that doesn't receive a lot of moisture because it's blocked by a mountain. So what's essentially gonna happen is Aziz. Warm, moist air rises over a mountain. It's going to cool and condense, and when it cools, it's going thio lose moisture as precipitation. And so when that air finally gets over the top of the mountain, it's pretty much gonna have lost all its moisture. So as it advances and moves over to the other side of the mountain, it's not going to have any moisture to provide his rain. So we're going to have what's called a rain shadow, this dry area due to a mountain blocking the movement of moist air. Now this can occur on a smaller scale like we see here, but we actually have really amazing example on a massive scale, the Himalayas, that's what we're looking at here. This these air, the Himalayan mountains, uh, sort of on the, uh you could think of it is the northern edge of the Indian subcontinent eyes where you'll find them on a map and you can see there's a line literally a line that goes along here that represents the essentially the boundary of our rain shadow, Right? It's all green on this side because that's the side that has the moist air. Now, when that air rises over these mountains, it loses its moisture. And that's why this landscape, known as the Tibetan Plateau, is particularly dry because all that rain is being blocked. This is a rain shadow. Now. Global air currents will also have a major influence on climate patterns. And you can see that in this figure, we have, um, what are known as the prevailing winds. These air sort of like major wind patterns and you know of note, are these lines in blue which represent what are called westerly winds and because they blow from the west and then we also have in yellow what are called the trade winds, which are northeasterly winds because they blow from the Northeast. Now, you know, there are many other types of global air currents for example, the jet stream that they're gonna have a major influence on, uh, the weather patterns around, rather the climate patterns around the earth. Um, it gets very complicated very quickly. And to be honest, you know, people are still sort of understanding some of the science behind it. So, really, all I want you to know about wind is just that it can have a not only global effect, but in local terms can have a strong effect because wind will actually increase heat loss and water loss. So wind will have a strong effect on local climate. And as we can see in this figure, it also will have a major effect on global climate. So with that, let's go ahead and flip the page.