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Day 60 – Q.2 Evaluate the role of plateau and highlands in shaping the climate, vegetation, and human settlement patterns of the regions they occupy.

  • IASbaba
  • January 26, 2023
  • 0
GS 1, Indian Geography, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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Evaluate the role of plateau and highlands in shaping the climate, vegetation, and human settlement patterns of the regions they occupy.

जलवायु, वनस्पति, और उनके कब्जे वाले क्षेत्रों के मानव आवास पैटर्न को आकार देने में पठार और उच्चभूमि की भूमिका का मूल्यांकन करें।


Approach

Candidates can start the answer with giving basic idea about plateaus and highland and then simply highlight its role in shaping climate, vegetation and human settlement.

Introduction

Plateaus or plateaux, also called a high plain or a tableland, is an area of a highland consisting of flat terrain that is raised sharply above the surrounding area on at least one side.

Body

Shaping Climate:

  • Plateaus and highlands typically have a cooler and drier climate than the surrounding lowlands due to their elevation. This can limit the types of vegetation that can grow, with forests giving way to grasslands and shrublands.
  • This is due to the fact that as air rises, it cools and moisture condenses, producing clouds and precipitation. However, as air continues to rise, it can cool so much that the moisture condenses into snow and ice rather than rain, reducing the amount of precipitation that reaches the ground.
  • The highlands and plateaus can also create local weather patterns due to the relief of the terrain, leading to the formation of clouds and precipitation in certain areas while other areas remain dry.
  • Additionally, they can act as a barrier to the prevailing winds, causing them to rise and cool, leading to the formation of clouds and precipitation on the windward side of the highlands or plateau, while the leeward side remains dry.
  • The high altitude of highlands and plateaus also means that the temperature tends to drop with altitude, creating a colder climate at higher elevations. This can lead to the formation of glaciers and permanent snowfields.
  • These regions may also have unique microclimates and biodiversity. Human settlement patterns in plateaus and highlands tend to be sparse, as the rugged terrain and harsh climate make agricultural and economic development difficult.

Shaping vegetation:

  • The lower temperatures and lower precipitation rates at higher elevations can limit the types of vegetation that can grow. Typically, as one goes up in elevation, forests give way to grasslands, shrublands, and rocky alpine tundra.
  • Forests, which thrive in warmer and more humid environments, are typically found at lower elevations and are replaced by grasslands and shrublands as the elevation increases.
  • The shrublands and grasslands are adapted to the drier and cooler conditions and are characterized by tough, hardy plants that can survive in the harsher environment.
  • In addition, highlands and plateaus often have unique microclimates due to their topography, which can lead to high levels of biodiversity, with many endemic species found only in these regions.
  • These microclimates can also create local weather patterns, leading to the formation of clouds and precipitation in certain areas while other areas remain dry, which can affect the vegetation.

Human settlements:

  • These regions may be important for resource extraction, such as mining and grazing, and they may also be used for protection and conservation.
  • Additionally, some highlands and plateau regions are also known for their cultural, spiritual and historical significance which attract tourism.
  • They may also be used for protection and conservation of natural resources, as well as for recreational activities such as hiking and mountaineering.
  • Human settlement in plateaus and highlands tends to be sparse due to the harsh climate and rugged terrain. These regions are often difficult to cultivate, and the lack of water resources can make economic development difficult.

Conclusion

Plateaus and highlands shape the climate, vegetation, and human settlement patterns of the regions they occupy through their elevation and unique microclimates, making them less hospitable for human habitation but more for specific plant and animal species, and also for resource extraction, protection and tourism.

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