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Climate can grind down mountains faster than they can rebuild

For the first time, researchers have attempted to measure all the material leaving and entering a mountain range over the course of more than a million years. They've discovered that erosion caused by glaciation during ice ages can, in the right circumstances, wear down mountains faster than plate tectonics can build them. The study adds insight into a longstanding debate over the balance of climate and tectonic forces that influence mountain building. The geoscientists studied the St. Elias Mountains on the Alaska coast. They found erosion accelerated sharply about 1 million years ago when global climate cooling triggered stronger and more persistent ice ages than in times past.

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