- Erosion resulting from mountain building increases transfer of carbon between the atmosphere and storage in rocks.
- The traditional view has focused on carbon dioxide (CO2) drawdown by silicate weathering, and its links to climate and erosion.
- An emerging view also considers CO2 drawdown by organic-carbon burial and CO2 emissions from oxidative weathering of both rock organic carbon and sulfide minerals.
- CO2 sources and sinks increase with erosion, and the net balance has now been quantified in a handful of locations.
- Climate (temperature, hydrology) regulates inorganic and organic CO2 sinks, with complex interdependency on erosion.
- Lithology is important: a mountain range composed of sedimentary rocks may be a weak CO2 sink (or CO2 source), but volcanic rocks favour CO2 drawdown.
The full (paywalled) article appeared on the Nature Reviews Earth and Environment website at https://www.nature.com/articles/s43017-020-0058-6