Earth's climate affects nearly all aspects of landscape evolution, from the breakdown of rock to the delivery of sediment to the oceans. Yet quantifying climate's influence on landscapes is a major challenge, not only because it is difficult to know how landscapes responded to past changes in climate, but also because landscapes are shaped by various processes that respond to climate in different ways. I review the current state of efforts to quantify climate's effects on the rates of the main processes that drive landscape evolution, with a focus on unglaciated landscapes formed by bedrock erosion. Although many uncertainties remain, recent research has clarified how the processes governing hillslopes, bedrock channels, and chemical erosion depend on major climate factors such as precipitation and temperature. A few themes emerge, including the importance of climatically mediated biological processes, the role of variability, and the value of natural experiments for revealing climate's effects.
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Annual Reviews
Published: Aug 30, 2017