Tectonic and climatic evolution of the Arabian Sea region: an introduction

Peter D. Clift, Dirk Kroon, Christoph Gaedicke, Jonathan Craig

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The evolution of the global oceanic and atmospheric circulation systems has been affected by several forcing processes, with orbital variations being dominant on shorter geological time scales. Over longer periods of time (> 10 Ma) the tectonic evolution of the solid Earth has been recognized as the major control on the development of the global climate system. Tectonic activity acts in one of two different ways to influence regional and global climate. The earliest solid Earth-climatic interaction recognized was the effect that the opening and closure of oceanic gateways had on the circulation patterns in the global ocean. Major effects on regional and sometimes global climate have been attributed to such changes, e.g. closure of the Isthmus of Panama (Driscoll & Haug 1998). Since the late 1980s a second form of climate-tectonic interaction has been recognized, involving the growth and erosion of orogenic belts. In this second category the Arabian Sea region must be considered the global type example.

Growth of the Himalaya and associated Tibetan Plateau is now believed to have substantially altered Cenozoic climate. Raymo et al. (1988) suggested that chemical erosion of the uplifting orogen resulted in the draw-down of atmospheric CO2, which was deposited as limestone, causing long-term global cooling, as a result of the reduction in this important greenhouse gas. Orogenic uplift is also believed to affect regional climate and in particular development of the monsoon. Summer heating of air above the Tibetan Plateau is known to have induced a strengthening of the monsoon (Raymo

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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