A mountain range is a chain of mountains bordered by highlands or separated from other mountains by passes or valleys. Individual mountains without the same mountain range do not necessarily have the same geology, though they often do; they may be a mix of different orogeny, for example volcanoes, uplifted mountains or fold mountains and may, therefore, be of different rock. The Andes is the world's longest mountain range. The Himalaya contains the world's highest mountains. The Arctic Cordillera is the world's northernmost mountain system and contains the highest point in eastern North America.
The mountain systems of the earth are characterized by a tree structure
, that is, many mountain ranges have sub-ranges within them. It can be thought of as a parent-child relationship. For example, the Appalachian Mountains
are the parent range of other ranges comprising it, some of which include the White Mountains
and the Blue Ridge Mountains
. The White Mountains are a child of the Appalachians, and there are also children of the Whites, including the Sandwich Range
and the Presidential Range
. Further, the Presidential Range can be broken up into the Northern Presidential Range and Southern Presidential Range.
For more information, see List of mountain ranges
and Peakbagger Ranges Home Page
The position of mountains influences climate, such as rainfall. When air masses move up and over mountains, the air cools producing orographic
precipitation (rain or snow). As the air descends on the leeward side, it warms again (in accordance with the adiabatic lapse rate
) and is drier, having been stripped of much of its moisture. Often, a rain shadow
will affect the leeward side of a range.
Mountains location also affects temperature. If the sun is shining from the east, then the eastern side of the mountain will receive sunlight and warmth, while the other side will be shaded and cooled, so certain ecosystems maintain different biological clocks depending on the location of a mountain.
Uplifted regions or volcanic caps can undergo erosion, which makes them move resulting in a range of mountains. An example is the English Lake District
. Mountain streams carry eroded debris downhill and deposit it in alluvial plains
or in deltas
. This forms the classical geological chain of events, leading to one type of sedimentary rock