Glaciers can help actively growing mountains become higher by protecting them from erosion, according to a University of Arizona-led research team. The finding is contrary to the conventional view of glaciers as powerful agents of erosion that carve deep fjords and move massive amounts of sediment down mountains. Mountains grow when movements of the Earth’s crust push the rocks up.
The research is the first to show that the erosion effect of glaciers – what has been dubbed the “glacial buzzsaw” – reverses on mountains in colder climates.
The researchers were surprised, said first author Stuart N. Thomson, a research scientist in the UA department of geosciences. “We were expecting to see the buzzsaw.”