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How does climate change affect mountains over time?
Question Date: 2014-01-12
Answer 1:

Mountain ranges, and all rocks really, are only affected on very long time scales. The rocky mountains along Western North America started to be built around 65 million years ago! Over those 65 million years it's been both much hotter and much colder than it is today because the earth is always changing between a cold climate (ice age) and warm climate. Even throughout those big temperature changes, they still managed to build up to how tall they are now.

But having said that, climate -- which determines how much water is in an environment-- can broadly affect how fast the mountains erode. If there is more water (rain, snow, hail, etc.) in contact with a rock, this will speed up the chemical reactions that break down rocks. If the climate around a mountain range became more wet, then the mountains would erode much faster (relatively speaking).

So on the whole, because mountains change on a millions-of-years timescale, climate change doesn't really effect them.

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