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Posts by Patrick J. Frings

Palaeoweathering: How Do Weathering Rates Vary with Climate?

A feedback between Earth surface weathering and climate is thought to be fundamental in maintaining Earth’s habitability over long timescales, but investigating this control in the modern world is difficult. The geologic record of cycles between glacial and interglacial conditions of the last 2.6 million years allows us to study weathering feedback in action. A suite of mineral, element and isotope proxies have been applied to address how weathering rates have varied over glacial cycles. Despite evidence for substantial local changes, the emerging answer at a global scale seems to be, “not very much”.

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The Central Role of Weathering in the Geosciences

Weathering is the chemical and physical alteration of rock at the surface of the Earth, but its importance is felt well beyond the rock itself. The repercussions of weathering echo throughout the Earth sciences, from ecology to climatology, from geomorphology to geochemistry. This article outlines how weathering interacts with various geoscience disciplines across a huge range of scales, both spatial and temporal. It traces the evolution of scientific thinking about weathering and man’s impact on weathering itself—for better and for worse. Future computational, conceptual and methodological advances are set to cement weathering’s status as a central process in the Earth sciences.

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