Geoscience: Ground down

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    Credit: E. WELTY/AURORA PHOTOS

    Nature Geosci. doi:10.1038/ngeo616 (2009)

    Glaciers are often said to be better than rivers at eroding the land, in part because of the dramatic landscapes they leave behind. But Michele Koppes of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and David Montgomery at the University of Washington in Seattle challenge this belief.

    By compiling global data on erosion rates from glacial and non-glacial environments, they show that both ice and water flows can erode rock at up to 10 millimetres per year in areas of rapid tectonic uplift.

    It seems that tectonics controls erosion rates from both rivers and glaciers, they say, and claims that glaciers erode faster are largely explained by incomplete data.

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    Geoscience: Ground down. Nature 460, 1061 (2009) doi:10.1038/4601061d

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