The Alps CASE STUDY
Background Location: Central, Europe - it stretches across Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland. Tallest peak: Mont Blanc at 4810m on the Italian-French border. Population: Around 12 million people Formation The Alps were formed about 30 million years ago by the collision between the African and European plates. The African plate pushed north against the Eurasian plate. As it moved, sediment which had accumulated in the sea of Tethys (the geosyncline between the plates) were squeezes upwards to form the fold mountain range.
Challenges of living in fold mountains Hard to access/ very remote (transport can be an issue) Can be very cold Lack of oxygen at altitude Lack of resources Hard to farm Difficult to keep cattle
Uses of fold mountainsFarming The steep-sided upland areas are used to farm goats which provide milk, cheese and meat. Traditionally a system called transhumance (seasonal movement of animals) is used in farming. In the summer cattle is taken high up to graze, which allows crops to be grown on the grassy floor. In the winter the animals return to the farms where they are kept in stalls. Some sunnier slopes have been terraced to plat vineyards (eg Lavaux, Switzerland) Tourism 100 million tourists visit the Alps each year, making tourism a huge part of the economy. 70% of the tourist visit the steep, snow covered mountains in the winter for skiing, snowboarding, and ice climbing. In the summer tourists visit for walking mountain biking, paragliding and climbing. New villages have been built to cater to the quantity of tourists eg Tignes in France Ski runs, ski lifts, cable cars, holiday chalets and restaurants pepper the landscape. Hydro-Electric Power (HEP) Steep slopes, high precipitation and summer melting of the glaciers produce fast flowing rivers that are ideal for generating HEP The narrow valleys are dammed to generate HEP eg in the Berne area in Switzerland. Switzerland gets 60% of its electricity from HEP stations in the Alps. The electricity produced is used locally to power homes and businesses. It's also exported to towns and cities further away. MiningSalt, iron ore, gold and copper were mined in the Alps, but the mining has declined dramatically due to cheaper foreign sources. Forestry Scots Pine is planted all over the Alps because it's more resilient to the munching goats, which kill native tree saplings. The trees are logged and sold to make things like furniture.
How have people adapted Steep Relief: Goats are farmed there because they're well adapted to live on steep mountains. Trees and man-made defences are used to protect against avalanches and rock slides. Poor Soils: Animals are grazed in most high areas as the soil isn't great for growing crops Limited Communications: Roads have been built over passes (lower points between mountains), eg the Brenner Pass between Austria and Italy. It takes a long time to drive over passes and they can be blocked by snow, so tunnels have been cut through the mountains to provide fast transport links. For example , the Lotschberg Tunnel has been cut through the Bernese Alps in Switzerland