There has been considerable controversy concerning the role of chemical weathering in the regulation of the atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and thus the strength of the greenhouse effect and global climate. Arguments center on the sensitivity of chemical weathering to climatic factors, especially temperature. Laboratory studies reveal a strong dependence of mineral dissolution on temperature, but the expression of this dependence in the field is often obscured by other environmental factors that co-vary with temperature. In the field, the clearest correlation is between chemical erosion rates and runoff, indicating an important dependence on the intensity of the hydrological cycle. Numerical models and interpretation of the geologic record reveal that chemical weathering has played a substantial role in both maintaining climatic stability over the eons as well as driving climatic swings in response to tectonic and paleogeographic factors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science