GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Orographic cloud formation. Diagram showing the formation of clouds over mountains. Warm air carrying moisture rises upwards (red arrow) as it hits the slopes of the mountains, cooling (blue arrow) and causing the moisture in it to condense to form clouds. These clouds then release the moisture in the form of rain or snow, forming ice on the mountains and providing water for rivers (left) and vegetation (green, left). The air on the other side of the mountains (white arrow) is dry, creating what is called an orographic shadow (rain shadow) where there is little rainfall, causing arid desert conditions (right).
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