Earth surface processes in high mountain regions – the influence of climate change:
The impact of climate change on earth surface processes in mountain systems can be observed in many ways, however, our knowledge regarding short-, medium-, and long-term effects is still limited. In addition to climatic factors, changes in land use or internal factors (e.g. fissures in rock) need to be considered as well. While small glaciers (<4 km²) are very good indicators for climatic variations showing dramatic changes in lengths and volume, impacts on mountain slopes or on rock walls under permafrost conditions are much more difficult to identify, sometimes after years or only with sophisticated measurement techniques, and not always related to climate warming. Nevertheless, there is evidence that many processes in mountain areas do increase in frequency of occurrence and in magnitude which will cause profound changes with new hazards and risks. The following chapter exemplifies how climate changes affects various geomorphological processes, such as gravitational mass movements, avalanches, periglacial, glacial and fluvial processes in high mountains.