Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Climate Change Can Grind Down Plate Tectonics

Earth's changing climate has a spectacular ability to reface the planet. Shifting winds and ocean currents can turn rainforests to deserts and back again, while ice ages have covered whole continents in glaciers again and again through time.Now, new evidence has emerged that, given enough time, climate change can even alter the course of plate tectonics.

The march of plate tectonics had previously seemed impervious to water and air's fickle motions. No matter the weather, plates would grind past and crash into one another to build mountain ranges, or sink into the hot depths of the mantle.But, according to Brendan Meade of Harvard University the mighty Andes mountain range, the longest on Earth, might not be here today if it wasn't for a drastic shift in climate 14 million years ago.

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