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Physical Geography of Northern Eurasia

Climatic Change and the Development of Landscapes

<<< Loess | Physical Geography Index | The Pre-Quaternary development of the Drainage Network >>>

The Development of the Hydrographic Network of Northern Eurasia

The drainage network in Northern Eurasia was influenced by various factors, which could be roughly categorized into two groups: tectonic and climatic. The general drainage pattern, as well as the location of principal river valleys, is controlled by large orographic features, which in turn are controlled tectonically. Climate controls the formation of drainage systems through rainfall, which should be sufficient to generate runoff. The relative importance of these factors and relationships between them have varied since the Cenozoic.

The first Paleogene-Miocene stage featured a stable tectonic regime with slightly differentiated movements and a relatively wet climate which favoured the development of a dense drainage system across most of the area. The next stage (between the end of the Miocene and the Pliocene) was marked by active orogenesis and the differentiation of topography. Spatial climatic differences increased. Most importantly, the plains of Central Asia and Kazakhstan became extremely dry and since then have been developing as internal drainage basins. Finally, during the Quaternary, the drainage network experienced climatic fluctuations of much greater amplitude than previously and differentiated neotectonic movements. Climatic change affected drainage systems in different ways. In the north, repeated glaciations and changes in ocean level were of primary importance. In the continental southern areas, fluctuations in moisture supply resulted in the atrophy of parts of the drainage network, the disintegration of river systems, and changing levels of inner lakes.

<<< Loess | Physical Geography Index | The Pre-Quaternary development of the Drainage Network >>>




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