Landslides in cold regions
Conveners : Marten Geertsema, Marta Chiarle, Wei Shan
Session description :
Cold regions of the world, occurring at high altitudes and high latitudes, are experiencing greater warming than other regions of the globe. Glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking while permafrost is thawing. Glaciers play an important role in conditioning landscapes for mass movement. Glaciers rearrange and override sediments, only to expose them to elements when the glaciers recede. The exposed and often steep soils are rapidly modified by erosion and debris slides and flows. Glacial debuttressing can result in rock fall, slow deep seated slope deformation, and under the right circumstances, rock avalanches. The distribution of permafrost is also decreasing. Permafrost thaw results directly from increased temperatures but also indirectly from disturbance agents. Wildfire, for example, reduces the thickness of insulating mosses and accelerates permafrost thaw. Permafrost thaw is associated with increased flow activity in soils and rock falls and slides from alpine rock faces. As glaciers continue to thin and permafrost continues to thaw in the 21st century, we can expect continued associated landslide activity.