Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "BBC reports that French scientists studying erosion on Mont Blanc have discovered that glaciers shield summits from erosion, acting as a protective lid and playing little part in erosion. In contrast, water and rain eroded glacier-free areas 10 times faster than areas protected by the glacier. These results may explain the high altitude of the Alps. Driven by the tectonic collision of Europe with Africa, the high alpine bedrock is rising about one millimeter each year. Glacier-free areas of the Alps erode at a similar rate but where the mountains are protected by ice, the peaks wear away at one tenth that rate. A long-term effect of this might be a rise in the maximum altitude of the Alps. 'However, mountains don't grow to infinity, so there must be another mechanism which has lowered the summit of Europe,' says Fritz Schlunegger. 'According to (Dr) Godon's findings, this erosion is not related to glaciers, so we still have to think about other possibilities.' Around the globe, mountain glaciers — especially those at low latitudes — are retreating in response to climate change. The glaciers around Mount Everest have lost more than one-eighth of their area in the past 50 years, and the snowline had retreated 180 meters up the mountain sides. The results suggest that changes like these could change the shapes of the world's highest mountains, and that climate and mountain landscape are intimately linked."
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