Ice and snow as land-forming agents

Darrel A. Swift, Simon Cook, Tobias Heckmann, Isabelle Gärtner-Roer, Oliver Korup, Jeffrey Moore

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    Many contemporary high-latitude and high-altitude regions are covered by ice and snow perennially or at least for substantial parts of the year, and such coverage extended greatly during colder periods of the Quaternary. Consequently, the landscape of such regions typically bears the strong imprint of ice- and snow-related processes operating over Quaternary-to-modern timescales. There has been strong research interest in the nature, rate, and efficacy of cold-region geomorphic processes, though most research has been devoted to glacial and permafrost phenomena, with comparably few studies having quantitatively addressed the role of snow as a land-forming agent. Here we review current research on land-forming processes related to glacial erosion and deposition, permafrost and periglacial processes, and snow-related processes such as nivation, snow creep, and snow avalanching. Our objective is to highlight those questions that drive current research and indicate others that seem sufficiently worthy to further our understanding of geomorphic form and process in the cryosphere. We do so bearing in mind that such knowledge is essential for successfully predicting form and process, and hence avoiding snow- and ice-related hazards. We conclude by outlining a number of recommendations for future research in the field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSnow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
    EditorsWilfried Haeberli, Colin Whiteman
    PublisherElsevier Inc.
    ISBN (Print)9780128171295
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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