Possible Connections Between Mountain Building And Global Climate Change
Mountain building is a process that takes place slowly on a geological timescale. It is, therefore necessary, in order to explore the role mountain building plays in global climate change to examine past epochs where the full impacts of these processes may be evaluated.
One period in which evidence for possible connections between mountain building and global climate change is particularly rich is during the Oligocene-Miocene transition. As such, this essay focuses on the transition between these two epochs during the late Cenozoic. The earth experienced dramatic climate change, with cooling observed in the Eocene/Oligocene boundary of 4-5℃ in the deep ocean (van Andel, 1994), with global climate change centered on dramatic cooling …show more content…
A particular strength of the hypothesis is correlation with the geological record; papers such as Garzione (2008) establish that Tibetan uplift occurred prior to major climate change, with others such as Dupont-Nivet et al (2008) concluding that evidence of uplift is consistent with the Raymo and Ruddiman hypothesis. Furthermore, Li and Elderfield (2013) believe that the same process is the most significant driver of atmospheric degassing.
Molnar and England (1990), however, have proposed an alternative link between mountain building and global climate; that erosional processes such as exhumation have led to the illusion of mountain building due to tooler peaks whilst mean height decreased. This process, they argue, is accompanied by crustal thickening from underlying tectonic activity. Notably, Molnar and England concede that global cooling over the past 50 million years is likely due to the tectonic processes responsible for the uplift of Asia but reject uplift itself as the underlying source of climate …show more content…
This correlates with modelling conducted by Kutzback et al (1993) which identified particularly severe cooling in high latitudes, but felt that the cooling that their model of uplift produced was not adequate to fully explain these impacts.
This foregrounds that despite the evidence supporting the role of mountain building, it is not suggested that it is the sole or dominant factor behind global climate change. Hay, 1992 (cited in Hay 200) draws upon Flint 1971 and Crosswell 1982 to suggest that there are no less than nine factors that ultimately explain the transition.
As argued by other studies and reviews cited in this essay, mountain building processes are believed to have played a preeminent role with other ideas such as atmospheric aerosols from volcanic eruptions have found to be short-lived lasting mere weeks (Kennett, 1981 cited in Hay 2002) or others such as polar vegetation could only act as positive feedbacks rather than triggering changes themselves (DeConto et al 1998, cited in Hay