Mountains such as the Himalaya-Tibet and Andes constitute the highest topography on our planet (with elevations up to 8,848 m: 29,029 ft) affecting biotic distribution and global atmospheric and oceanic circulation. For example collision between India and Asia in the early Cenozoic (~ 55 Ma) has allowed for terrestrial faunal exchange between the two continents; and uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya has formed the largest orographic barrier to atmospheric circulation blocking moisture from the south and creating the Asian monsoon. Similarly the Andes affect the Humboldt Current with impacts on global ocean circulation and create a large orographic barrier responsible for the South American monsoon. Yet climate in concert with tectonics has controlled erosion and shaped topography over geological time.

Presenter: Barbara Carrapa, Professor, Department of Geosciences