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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2017-47
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
16 Aug 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).
Where is Late Cenozoic climate change most likely to impact denudation?
Sebastian G. Mutz1, Todd A. Ehlers1, Martin Werner2, Gerrit Lohmann2, Christian Stepanek2, and Jingmin Li3 1Department of Geosciences, University Tübingen, 72074 Tübingen, Germany
2Department of Paleoclimate Dynamics, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
3Institute for Geography and Geology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, 97074 Germany
Abstract. The denudation history of active orogens is often interpreted in the context of modern climate and vegetation gradients. Here we address the validity of this approach and ask the question: what are the spatial and temporal variations in paleo-climate for a latitudinally diverse range of active orogens? We do this using high-resolution (T159, ca. 80 × 80 km at the equator) paleo-climate simulations from the ECHAM5 global Atmospheric General Circulation Model and a statistical cluster analysis of climate over different orogens (Andes, Himalaya, SE Alaska, Pacific NW USA). Time periods and boundary conditions considered include the Pliocene (PLIO, ~ 3 Ma), the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, ~ 21 ka), Mid Holocene (MH, ~ 6 ka) and Pre-Industrial (PI, reference year 1850). The regional simulated climates of each orogen are described by means of cluster analyses based on the variability of precipitation, 2 m air temperature, the intra-annual amplitude of these values, and monsoonal wind speeds where appropriate. Results indicate the largest differences to the PI climate are observed for the LGM and PLIO climates in the form of widespread cooling and reduced precipitation in the LGM and warming and enhanced precipitation during the PLIO. The LGM climate shows the largest deviation in annual precipitation from the PI climate, and shows enhanced precipitation in the temperate Andes, and coastal regions for both SE Alaska and the US Pacific Northwest Pacific. Furthermore, LGM precipitation is reduced in the western Himalayas and enhanced in the eastern Himalayas, resulting in a shift of the wettest regional climates eastward along the orogen. The cluster-analysis results also suggest more climatic variability across latitudes east of the Andes in the PLIO climate than in other time-slice experiments conducted here. Taken together, these results highlight significant changes in Late Cenozoic regional climatology over the last ~ 3 Ma. Finally, we document regions where the largest magnitudes of Late Cenozoic changes in precipitation and temperature occur and offer the highest potential for future observational studies interested in quantifying the impact of climate change on denudation and weathering rates.

Citation: Mutz, S. G., Ehlers, T. A., Werner, M., Lohmann, G., Stepanek, C., and Li, J.: Where is Late Cenozoic climate change most likely to impact denudation?, Earth Surf. Dynam. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2017-47, in review, 2017.
Sebastian G. Mutz et al.
Sebastian G. Mutz et al.
Sebastian G. Mutz et al.

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Short summary
We use a climate model and statistics to provide an overview of regional climates from different times in the Late Cenozoic. We focus on mountain ranges in particular and identify potential hotspots for erosion. Our results highlight significant changes in climates throughout the Late Cenozoic, which should be taken into consideration when interpreting erosion rates. We also document regions with the highest potential for future observational studies of the impact of climate change on erosion.
We use a climate model and statistics to provide an overview of regional climates from different...
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