New Plateau in the Western Ghats

Why in News?

Recent finds of a rare low-altitude basalt plateau in Maharashtra's Western Ghats can aid in the study of how climate change affects species survival and increase awareness of the need to protect rock outcrops and their enormous biodiversity value on a global scale.
What do we need to know about western ghats?
The Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri, a mountain range that stretches from north to south, encircle the Deccan Plateau on its western side. The plateau and a thin coastal plain that parallels the Arabian Sea are separated by it.

Western Ghats States and Union Territories

The mountainous region is located in six states: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, as well as two Union Territories: Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Pondicherry.
The foothills of the mountains can be found in the eastern portion of Dadra and Silvassa in D&N, south of the Tapti river, where the range begins close to the Gujarati border. Nearly 1600 kilometres south of its starting point, it ends at the Anamudi peak in Kerala.
On the Malabar coast of the Western Ghats, Pondicherry's Mahe is surrounded by Kerala.

Western Ghats mountains 

  • The mountain region contains a number of hill towns, including Matheran, Lonavala-Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Amboli Ghat, Kudremukh, and Kodagu.
  • The Gujarati district of Dangs, famous for its Dang (Bamboo) forests, contains the northernmost portions of the Western Ghats.
  • Karnataka's Biligirirangan Hills are where the Eastern and Western Ghats meet. Anamudi, a peak with a height of 2,695 meters, is the highest point in the mountainous area. Mullayanagiri, which rises 1,950 meters, is the highest peak in Karnataka.
  • As far as the Ariankavu pass, they connect the Anaimalai Hills to the northwest, the Palni Hills to the northeast, and the Agasthyamalai Hills to the south.
  • The Western Ghats contain a number of significant passes, including Tamhini Ghat, Kasara Ghat, Naneghat, and Palakkad Gap.
  • Three sections of the narrow coastal plain that stretch between the mountainous region and the Arabian Sea are known as the Konkan Coast in the north, Kanara in the centre, and the Malabar area or Malabar Coast in the south.
  • Maharashtra's eastern foothills east of the Ghats are referred to as Desh, while central Karnataka's eastern foothills are referred to as Malenadu.

The Western Ghats' climate

  • The Western Ghats' western side experiences more rainfall than its eastern side because the mountains can block the westerly monsoon winds that bring rain. The pattern and intensity of India's monsoonal rainfall are thus significantly impacted.
  • The forested areas also influence high orographic precipitation. In the lower reaches, the proximity to the sea helps to moderate the humid, tropical climate.
  • A more temperate climate can be found at 1,500 m and higher elevations in the north and 2,000 m and higher in the south.
  • The local average annual temperature is very nearly 15 °C. Wintertime temperatures in some areas are below freezing, and frost is common. The average temperature ranges from 20 °C in the south to 24 °C in the north. It has also been demonstrated that the coldest and wettest seasons in the South Western Ghats are connected.
  • The unbroken Western Ghats chain is a deterrent to the moisture-filled clouds during the monsoon season, which lasts from June to September. The rain-bearing, heavy clouds are compelled to rise as they move eastward, where they mainly drop their rain on the windward side. The region experiences 3,000–4,000 mm of rain annually.
  • Given that it is in the rain shadow, the eastern part of the mountain range receives 1,000 mm less rain annually on average than the western part, for a total of 2,500 mm.

Western Ghats vegetation

  • The Western Ghats support a wide variety of plants because the vegetation on high hills differs from that on low slopes.
  • Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests on the western slopes are primarily made up of Rosewood, Mahogany, Cedar, etc. For almost the entire year, these slopes are visible as green. These trees do not have a set time when they would shade their leaves.
  • Dry and moist deciduous forests with a predominance of Teak, Sal, Shisham, Sandalwood, etc., can be found on the eastern mountain slopes.
  • Furthermore, we find dry deciduous forests on the northern side of the Wayanad forests, while wet deciduous forests are found on the southern side. Kerala's evergreen Wayanad forests mark the transition zone between the northern and southern mountain ecoregions.
  • Ecoregions in the south tend to be wetter and more diverse in species. The most diverse ecoregions in peninsular India are the montane rain forests of the South Western Ghats. This ecoregion is home to 80% of the flowering plant species found throughout the entire Western Ghats range.
  • The northern forests are known as North Western Ghats Montane rain forests because those regions are cooler and more humid due to their high elevation. In addition to stunted forests, the Western Ghats also contain montane grasslands.

What Key Results Do We Have Regarding the Plateau?

  • Basalt at Low Altitudes: Laterites at High and Low Altitudes and Basalt at High Altitudes are the first three plateaus identified in the area.
  • Diverse Biodiversity: 76 species of plants and shrubs from 24 different families were identified during the survey of the plateau. Due to the plateau's shared vegetation with the other three rock outcrops and the presence of a few rare species, this is regarded as a significant discovery.
  • In order to study the interactions of the species in various environmental conditions, this provides a special model system.




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