London, August 13 (ANI): A team of scientists has used satellite images to determine that the highest mountains are located near the equator because warmer climates enhance mountain growth.
Three things control how high a mountain range is likely to grow: the strength of the underlying crust, the magnitude of tectonic forces pushing upwards, and the amount of erosion wearing the mountains down.
All of the world's highest ranges have strong underlying crust, but until now it wasn't clear whether the world's tallest peaks were dominated by strong uplift or minimal erosion.
According to a report in New Scientist, using satellite images, David Egholm of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues mapped all the major mountain ranges between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south, plotting their land surface area against elevation.
They compared this with the average altitude of the snowline and the latitude of each range. They also modeled the effects of glacial erosion.
At low latitudes, the warmer climate tended to push the snowline higher, and the mountains grew taller, they found.
"Erosion processes are more effective above the snowline where glacial erosion dominates," said Vivi Pedersen of Aarhus University.
Peaks are rarely more than 1500 metres above the snowline, meaning that low-latitude ranges like the Himalayas have a head start over high-latitude ranges because their snowline is much higher. (ANI)