How Climate, Uplift and Erosion Shaped the Alpine Topography

Decades of scientific research on the European Alps have helped quantify the vast array of processes that shape the Earth’s surface. Patterns in rock exhumation, surface erosion and topographic changes can be compared to sediment yields preserved in sedimentary basins or collected from modern rivers. Erosion-driven isostatic uplift explains up to ~50% of the modern geodetic rock uplift rates; the remaining uplift reveals the importance of internal processes (tectonics, deep-seated geodynamics) and external processes (glacial rebound, topographic changes). We highlight recent methodological and conceptual developments that have contributed to our present view of the European Alps, and we provide suggestions on how to fill the gaps in our understanding.

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