Q:

How does climate affect the rate of weathering?

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Quick Answer

Climate affects the rate of weathering in several ways: humidity, physical erosion and temperature all impact the rate at which rocks and earthen materials wear and fade. Climate influences weathering over short and longer periods of time. This weathering takes place naturally, through the process of physical weathering, and in the form of chemical weathering, which involves rain, snow and other precipitation with synthetic compounds.

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The region in which earthen debris resides also influences patterns and degrees of weathering. Rocks and soil in dry, warm tropical climates experiencing heavy rainfall and higher temperatures wear differently than the same materials in cold and dry climates. A higher temperature and longer exposure to humidity, such as is experienced in tropical conditions, makes rocks fade much more quickly than rocks of the same variety in colder regions. Abundant rain leads to the rapid wearing of rock surfaces; this type of wear classifies as chemical weathering. In regions prone to chemical weathering, which are areas in tropical regions and areas with mild year-round temperatures, chemical weathering presides. This type of weathering produces gradual yet noticeable changes in the surrounding landscape, too. These areas have undulating terrains with sloping hills and thicker, richer soils than northern climates. Physical weathering dominates in colder climates; these landscapes have sharper, more rugged features and thin soils.

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    A:

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