The history of the southern central Andes, including the world's second largest plateau and adjacent intermontane basins and ranges of the Eastern Cordillera and the northern Sierras Pampeanas of Argentina and Bolivia, impressively documents the effects of tectonics and topography on atmospheric circulation patterns, the development of orographic barriers, and their influence on erosion and landscape evolution at various timescales. Protracted aridity in the orogen interior has facilitated the creation and maintenance of the Puna-Altiplano plateau. Contraction and range uplift, filling of basins, and possibly wholesale uplift of the plateau increased gravitational stresses in the orogen interior, which caused the eastward migration of deformation into the foreland and successive aridification. The uplift of the Andean orogen has also had a far-reaching influence on atmospheric and moisture-transport patterns in South America. This is documented by the onset of humid climate conditions on the eastern side of the Andes in late Miocene time, which was coupled with the establishment of dramatic precipitation gradients perpendicular to the orogen, and changes in tectonic processes in the Andean orogenic wedge.