Yep, we're talking about a fictional universe where humans are replaced with bipedal humanoid bears who can talk, use tools and wear clothes.

To make a certain fictional country (which occupies a part of RL Russia) more interesting, I want to subject the Ural mountains to several changes.

In Real Life, the Urals look like this:

In most areas, the rather mediocre mountains barely hit the 1200 meter mark, the highest peak of the Urals stands at only 1895 meters. The thickness of the mountain range ranges from 40 to 150 kilometers.

In my fictional universe, the Urals are of more alpine nature, being similar to the European Alps and the Altai mountains.

The highest peak stands to over 4000 meters. The median width of the mountains ranges from 200 to 300 kilometers.

*Approximate elevation map. The colors mark the height of the highest peaks:

Green: <800m Yellow: 800-1400m Orange: 1400-2000m Red: >2000m*

The southernmost part of my alternative Urals slowly rises from the Kazakh steppe, just like the real counterpart.

The southern gradient is very small. The steppe plain slowly turns into a rolling forest-steppe landscape full of pastures and fields.

Further northwards, a landscape similar to the Appalachians or to the Black Forest appears. Wide and smooth valleys cut through the forested mountains that range from 500 to 1300 meters in height.

Further northwards, the landscape becomes truly alpine as bare peaks and sharp ridges appear. Mountain lakes of various sizes and long valleys cut through the rocky landscape.

The highest peaks stand at over 4000 meters.

Even further northwards, the mountains become slightly lower but still stand at 1500 to 2000 meters. Impressive rocky formations and cliffs appear as the peaks get covered in forest again. The valleys start to widen and lowlands start to cut through the mountains; they become more similar to the real Urals.

Finally, the alternative Urals turn into rolling hills again before terminating into the Northern Polar Sea.

My questions are:

  • Is such a change in the geography of northeastern Europe feasible?

  • What changes in geological and geographical factors could lead to a higher Ural mountain range?

  • How would the higher Urals affect the climate of Europe and Siberia?

Note: the climate in northeastern Europe and in Siberia is slightly milder and warmer in my alternative universe.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I think you need to A) remove some of these pictures (too much scrolling) B) break your questions down into multiple posts (too broad). $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Oct 3, 2016 at 14:23
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, the answer to your second question is essentially "the Urals are taller/more massive because the author said they are". No particular explanation needed, unless you're planning on going into plate tectonics in your story. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Oct 3, 2016 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ Geography or climate, not both at the same time. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Oct 3, 2016 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like an interesting question, but too broad. I recommend more links and less embedded pictures to limit scrolling. Voting to close. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Oct 3, 2016 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


The Urals were created by the Uralian orogeny, somewhere between 250 and 300 million years ago. They have been worn down substantially over time, which is why they are so rounded now. There are two ways you could have them be bigger now:

  • They were originally higher than in our timeline. This requires that the tectonic plate collision that created them went on for longer, but they'll still be worn down and rounded, just taller.

  • If you want them to look like the Alps, the plate collision needs to be going on now. The Alps and Himalayas are being created right now by the Alpine orogeny. Doing that requires revising the history of plate tectonics on Earth, but if your story doesn't delve into geology or history, you could just say it's happening and not worry about the details.


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