"When a cosmic particle from outer space reaches Earth, it is likely to hit sand grains on hillslopes as they are transported toward rivers. When this happens, some atoms within each grain of sand can transform into a rare element. By counting how many atoms of this element are present in a bag of sand, we can calculate how long the sand has been there, and therefore how quickly the landscape has been eroding," Dr. Adams said.
You can see how this beryllium isotope was used in the original paper "Climate controls on erosion in tectonically active landscapes" (linked by sradman in comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24812181) within the Materials and Methods section of the paper.
I do not understand this, unless the point is that rainfall, by eroding valleys, reduces the weight of a mountain range, allowing tectonic forces to raise the ridges and peaks faster than otherwise.
We tend to think of mountains as stable things with the constant stress underneath, rather than a layer of congealed fat on top of a warm stove (or, a lava lamp). But the latter is a better model for geologic behaviour over long periods of time.
> The ongoing debate about the nature of coupling between climate and tectonics in mountain ranges derives, in part, from an imperfect understanding of how topography, climate, erosion, and rock uplift are interrelated. Here, we demonstrate that erosion rate is nonlinearly related to fluvial relief with a proportionality set by mean annual rainfall.