Control of Co by uplift and Weathering

This theory looks at natural uplift and weathering of the Earth's surface features as the determining factor of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and therefore potential global warming. When land is uplifted, geologic forces go to work on it to erode and wear the land down—a process called weathering.

The Earth's surface can be uplifted in several different ways. Earthquakes can fracture, fault, and uplift large sections of the Earth's crust. Plate tectonics can also create mountains and high plateaus when converging plates push against each other. Once land has been uplifted, it is a natural geomorphic process to have various erosional processes begin working on the landscape to weather the rock, erode formations, transport sediments, and wear the Earth's surface down to a flat plain. Geomorphology is the study of the nature, origin, and development of landforms and the changes they go through during mechanical, physical, and chemical processes. This is a continual cycle because when a flat area is uplifted again by geologic forces, geomorphic processes go to work again on the landscape under the forces of gravity to erode it to a flat level again.

Several processes can weather and erode landscapes. Steep slopes are subject to mass wasting, the downslope movement of material under the force of gravity. Mass wasting processes include avalanches, mudslides, rockslides, rock falls, debris flows, and mudflows. Depending on the process, material of all sizes can be dislodged and moved from huge slabs of rock to boulders, rocks, gravel, and soil. When mass wasting occurs, fresh rock is exposed, which is then vulnerable to chemical weathering pro-

Continental slope

Continental Abyssal Mid-ocean Abyssal Seamount Volcanic shelf plain ridge ridge island


Continental slope

Continental Abyssal Mid-ocean Abyssal Seamount Volcanic shelf plain ridge ridge island


Mid Ocean Ridge

Plate tectonics can add CO2 to the atmosphere through volcanic sources and seafloor spreading. Weathering of rock also adds CO2. Scientists believed these mechanisms played a role in the CO2 budget by increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

cesses from rain and snowstorms. The more precipitation a slope receives, the more chemical weathering occurs. Glaciers can also erode rocks and leave them vulnerable to weathering.

Scientists have suggested that the uplift weathering hypothesis is important because faster rates of weathering take more CO2 out of the atmosphere, which then cools global climate, leading toward global cooling conditions. Scientists have successfully applied this hypothesis to uplift of the Earth's surface created by the collision of continents due to plate tectonics.

Interestingly, both the seafloor spreading and uplift-weathering hypotheses fit well with other evidence, such as the presence of ice sheets, orogenic uplift, and corresponding chemical weathering, that has been found dealing with identified global cooling/global warming intervals over the past 400 million years. When scientists are able to make these connections with processes that continue today, it allows greater insight and better understanding of the complexity of processes involved in global warming. This, in turn, allows scientists to improve climate models, enabling better management and resource decisions to be made.

Understanding Wind Uplift

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  • Asfaha
    How are uplift and weathering different and similar?
    8 years ago
  • leonida
    Does sea floor slope from midocean ridge to trench?
    8 years ago
  • ivo
    What is the uplift weathering hypothesis?
    2 years ago

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