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A new research paper published in Science Advances reveals how changes in the size of the Yangtze River watershed may have led to the carving of deep canyons.  

In this study, UNC-Chapel Hill Professor and EMES Department Chair Eric Kirby and his co-authors explore the impact of drainage basin expansion on the growth of the Yangtze River.  

“This study presents a new model for when and how the Yangtze River was born,” said Kirby, “The Yangtze is one of the world’s great rivers, rising on the Tibetan Plateau at altitudes over 17,000 feet and descending through some of the deepest canyons on the planet toward the East China Sea. The timing of when these canyons were carved is commonly attributed to the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau, but whether the rivers existed in their present-day configuration has been uncertain.” 

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