Ice loss and slope stability in high-mountain regions

Philip Deline, Stephan Gruber, Reynald Delaloye, Luzia Fischer, Marten Geertsema, Marco Giardino, Andreas Hasler, Martin Kirkbride, Michael Krautblatter, Florence Magnin, Samuel McColl, Ludovic Ravanel, Philippe Schoeneich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

87 Citations (Scopus)


The present time is one significant stage in the adjustment of mountain slopes to climate change, and specifically atmospheric warming. This review examines the state of understanding of the responses of mid-latitude alpine landscapes to recent cryospheric change, and summarizes the variety and complexity of documented landscape responses involving glaciers, moraines, rock and debris slopes, and rock glaciers. These indicate how a common general forcing translates into varied site-specific slope responses according to material structures and properties, thermal and hydrological environments, process rates, and prior slope histories. Warming of permafrost in rock and debris slopes has demonstrably increased instability, manifest as rock glacier acceleration, rock falls, debris flows, and related phenomena. Changes in glacier geometry influence stress fields in rock and debris slopes, and some failures appear to be accelerating toward catastrophic failure. Several sites now require expensive monitoring and modeling to design effective risk-reduction strategies, especially where new lakes as multipliers of hazard potential form, and new activities and infrastructure are developed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSnow and ice-related hazards, risks and disasters
EditorsWilfried Haeberli, Colin Whiteman, John F. Shroder
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Number of pages41
ISBN (Electronic)9780123964731
ISBN (Print)0123948495, 9780123948496
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameHazards and disasters series


  • Debuttressing
  • Deep-seated gravitational slope deformation
  • Glacier shrinkage
  • Ice unloading
  • Moraine instability
  • Permafrost degradation
  • Rock fall
  • Rock glacier
  • Rock slide


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