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The contribution of mountains to global denudation

Isaac J. Larsen, David R. Montgomery and Harvey M. Greenberg
The contribution of mountains to global denudation
Geology (Boulder) (April 2014) 42 (6): 527-530


The hypothesis that mountains influence global climate through links among rock uplift, physical and chemical denudation, and the carbon cycle remains vigorously debated. We address the contribution of mountains to global denudation with an empirical model that predicts that >50% of the total denudation and 40% of the chemical denudation occur on the steepest approximately 10% of Earth's terrestrial surface. These findings contrast with those from a recent study that suggested global-scale denudation occurs primarily on gently sloping terrain, but did not account for the influence of digital elevation model resolution on modeled denudation rates. Comparison of calculated denudation rates against the sum of measured sediment and solute yields from 265 watersheds indicates a positive correlation (R (super 2) = 0.44) with order-of-magnitude variability reflecting, among other things, the effects of dams and agriculture. In addition, ratios of measured river yield to modeled denudation rate decline as catchment area increases due to progressively greater sediment storage with increasing drainage area. Our results support the conclusion that the small mountainous fraction of Earth's surface dominates global denudation and the flux of sediment and solutes to oceans.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 42
Serial Issue: 6
Title: The contribution of mountains to global denudation
Affiliation: University of Washington, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Seattle, WA, United States
Pages: 527-530
Published: 20140410
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 34
Accession Number: 2014-030374
Categories: Geomorphology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2014186
Illustration Description: illus.
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201419
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