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Late Cenozoic uplift of mountain ranges and global climate change: chicken or egg?

Abstract

The high altitudes of most mountain ranges have commonly been ascribed to late Cenozoic uplift, without reference to when crustal thickening and other tectonic processes occurred. Deep incision and recent denudation of these mountain ranges, abundant late Cenozoic coarse sediment near them, and palaeobotanical evidence for warmer climates, where high mountain climates today are relatively cold, have traditionally been interpreted as evidence for recent uplift. An alternative cause of these phenomena is late Cenozoic global climate change: towards lower temperatures, increased alpine glaciation, a stormier climate, and perturbations to humidity, vegetative cover and precipitation.

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Molnar, P., England, P. Late Cenozoic uplift of mountain ranges and global climate change: chicken or egg?. Nature 346, 29–34 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1038/346029a0

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