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Orographic effects

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Orographic effects

Post by lunamoonfang on Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:09 pm

Orographic effects
Main articles: Orographic lift, Precipitation types (meteorology), and United States rainfall climatology
Diagram showing how moist air over the ocean rises and flows over the land, causing cooling and rain as it hits mountain ridges.
Orographic precipitation

Orographic precipitation occurs on the windward side of mountains and is caused by the rising air motion of a large-scale flow of moist air across the mountain ridge, resulting in adiabatic cooling and condensation. In mountainous parts of the world subjected to relatively consistent winds (for example, the trade winds), a more moist climate usually prevails on the windward side of a mountain than on the leeward or downwind side. Moisture is removed by orographic lift, leaving drier air (see katabatic wind) on the descending and generally warming, leeward side where a rain shadow is observed.[15]

In Hawaii, Mount Waiʻaleʻale, on the island of Kauai, is notable for its extreme rainfall, as it has the second highest average annual rainfall on Earth, with 460 inches (12,000 mm).[37] Systems known as Kona storms affect the state with heavy rains between October and April.[38] Local climates vary considerably on each island due to their topography, divisible into windward (Koʻolau) and leeward (Kona) regions based upon location relative to the higher mountains. Windward sides face the east to northeast trade winds and receive much more rainfall; leeward sides are drier and sunnier, with less rain and less cloud cover.[39]

In South America, the Andes mountain range blocks Pacific moisture that arrives in that continent, resulting in a desertlike climate just downwind across western Argentina.[40] The Sierra Nevada range creates the same effect in North America forming the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts.[41][42]
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