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Climate: Mountain

  • By: Andrew J. Bach
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Climate is the fundamental factor driving the natural environment, setting the stage on which all physical, chemical, and biological processes operate. The influence of climate on environmental processes is exaggerated in mountains. Immense environmental gradients occur over short distances as a result of the diverse topography and highly variable nature of the energy and moisture fluxes in mountains. Nevertheless, predictable patterns and characteristics are found within these heterogeneous systems; for example, temperatures normally decrease with elevation, while cloudiness and precipitation increase; it is usually windier in the mountains, the air is thinner and clearer, and solar radiation is more intense.

Mountains themselves, by acting as a barrier and elevated surface, affect regional climate and modify passing storms. Their influence may be felt for hundreds of kilometers, ...

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