The atmosphere is linked to tectonics in several ways. Mountain building affects climate by blocking air flow and changing temperature and pressure gradients. In turn, climate affects uplift through climate-driven erosional processes.

Furthermore, atmospheric science, specifically an investigation of past climates, can benefit the geological community by reconstructing and quantifying the climatic context for geological processes. For example, oxygen isotopes are used in palaeoaltimetry to estimate the height of mountains at specific times in geological history. However, differences in climate can produce similar magnitudes of change of isotopic ratios (Fig. 1). Quantifying the climatically induced isotopic changes therefore allows for isotopic signal separation, which ultimately leads to more robust palaeoelevation estimates. This is what the research project APE (Apline Palaeoclimate/-elevation Experiment)  is currently attempting.

Fig. 1: ECHAM5-wiso simulated ­­summer precipitation δ18O from experiments with 150% of modern Alps topography (Alps150), 100% of modern Alps topography (Alps100),  50% of modern Alps topography (Alps50), using climatic boundary conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and mid-Pliocene (PLIO), for two transects across the Alps (A and B). The work presented here is part of a scientific article in-progress (S. Botsyun et al.).