Climatic Limits on Landscape Development in the Northwestern Himalaya

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Science  25 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5312, pp. 571-574
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5312.571

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The interaction between tectonism and erosion produces rugged landscapes in actively deforming regions. In the northwestern Himalaya, the form of the landscape was found to be largely independent of exhumation rates, but regional trends in mean and modal elevations, hypsometry (frequency distribution of altitude), and slope distributions were correlated with the extent of glaciation. These observations imply that in mountain belts that intersect the snowline, glacial and periglacial processes place an upper limit on altitude, relief, and the development of topography irrespective of the rate of tectonic processes operating.

  • * Present address: Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. E-mail: nick{at}

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed.

  • Present address: Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.

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