There are threats facing fragile active and relict glaciated upland landscapes

Natural Threats
An avalanche is a sudden downhill movement of snow.
Two types- ‘Loose snow’ and ‘Slab avalanches’.
A Slab avalanche is the most dangerous form of movement they can be caused by:
• Heavy snowfall
• Deforestation, making the slopes less stable
• Steep slopes- contributes to increased speed of movement
• Vibrations e.g. earthquakes, noise, or off-piste skiers
• Layering of snow-for instance where snow is already on the mountain and turns to ice, so fresh snowfall can easily slide down.
• Wind direction, piling snow that can overhang a mountain.

Lahars (case study)
• Nevado Del Ruiz, Colombia 1985.
• Lahars flowed down the Lagunillas Valley, burying the town of Armero, 50km away.
• Resulted in the instant death of over 23,000 people.
Glacial Outbursts
• Also known as ‘jökulhlaup’ – an Icelandic term.
• A powerful flood, resulting from a bursting subglacial lake
Human Threats
Human Activity can degrade and damage fragile glacial and periglacial environments and ecosystems.
• Polar settlements tend to be nucleated and isolated – surrounded by ‘nothingness’.
• They are built for resource exploitation – fishing, whaling, and mining
• Issues include pollution and toxic waste
• Tourism is an increasing threat to these remote regions.

Case Studies
Antarctica (active glacial environment)
• Some 9,000 tourists in 1992-93 have now grown to 37,000 in 2006-7 and to 46,000 in 2007-8.
• Over 100 tourist companies are involved.
• In 2006, 38.9% of visitors were American, 15.4% British, 10.3% German and 8.4% Australian.
• Wildlife and Scenery
• Small boat cruising
• Aircraft flight
• climbing
• camping
• walking
• helicopter flight
• ice landing
• kayaking
• snowboarding
• ship cruises and scuba diving
• Skiing
• Landing sites are chosen for a special feature, so they quickly become honeypots.
• Tourists only spend a short time ashore, but the impacts do not always reflect this.
• Animals, especially penguins and seals, are disturbed by any more than a few people. Not used to humans, they do not like to be touched. If they leave as a result, they may abandon eggs and young.
• Oil spills are becoming an increasing hazard for wildlife.

• All tour operators are members of IAATO, which directs tourism to be safe and environmentally friendly.
• Around 100 companies are involved.
• Visitors are not allowed to visit Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in order to conserve precious wildlife and landscapes.
• A permit must be obtained for any activities on the continent.
• No ship carrying over 500 passengers can land in Antarctica.
The Lake District (Relict glacial environment)
• Over 16 million visitors annually.
• The local economy benefits hugely from this influx of visitors, with tourists spending £1.1 billion in 2014.
• Boosts the multiplier effect with money spent in local pubs, shops etc.
• Tourism provides 16,000 jobs.

• Additional tourist traffic increases both pollution and congestion.
• Footpath erosion- almost 2,000 miles of footpaths In the Lake District. Problems derive from the mass tourist traffic with walkers destroying vegetation and compact the soil which reduces infiltration rates.
Climate change which may potentially lead to:
• The loss of indigenous plant and animal species.
• An increase in non-native species which may affect the food chain.
• Increased heavy rainfall- this will wash more soil and farm chemicals into the lakes causing siltation and eutrophication.


The Sagarmatha National Park (active glacial)
Sagarmatha was established as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 and is a fragile active environment home to rare species such as the snow leopard.
Tourism opportunities and threats:
Tourism is largely in the hands of the Sherpa people however, outsiders from other parts of Nepal as well as foreigners are increasingly establishing businesses in the area.
This has led to:
• A boost in the local economy.
• Improved standards of living.
• Better healthcare, infrastructure and education.

Main threats:
• The construction of illegal trails.
• Problems with waste disposal.
• A greater demand for forest products such as firewood.
• An increased demand for new hotels and lodges.
• Water pollution.
Mt Everest:
-The two main routes up Everest are dangerously crowded during the peak climbing season and badly polluted with rubbish and abandoned equipment.
-New rules mean that all waste is now removed from Everest base camp, but camps at higher altitudes remain badly polluted.
Mountaineers are now calling for tighter controls such as:
• Limiting the number of permits given to climbers each year.
• Insisting that all guides are properly qualified and experienced.
• Restricting group sizes.
Nepal was once heavily forested, but less than 30% of the country’s natural forest now remains.
Deforestation has been caused by:

• The use of firewood as the main source of fuel.
• The clearance of forested areas to build roads, reservoirs, HEP etc.
The consequences of deforestation can include:
• The loss of habitats which reduces biodiversity.
• Exposure of soil, causing nutrients to be washed away- leaving the soil infertile and lowering crop yields.
• A significant increase in the risk of landslides.
Managing Sagarmatha for the future:
• Establishment of plant nurseries to provide seedlings to re-establish forests on hill slopes and reduce erosion.
• Setting up projects sponsored through the Sir Edmund Hillary foundation, including the construction of schools, hospitals and bridges.
• Increasing the use of kerosene as an alternative to firewood.
• Building micro HEP stations for local use.
• Limiting development projects such as the expansion of the Sanboche airport.

Tundra Ecosystems
How global warming is changing Arctic Tundra:
• Rapid warming has led to extensive melting of sea ice as well as greatly reduced snow cover and a reduction in permafrost.
• Shrubs and trees that previously couldn’t survive in the tundra eco-system have now begun to grow there.
• The same is true with the introduction of new animals disrupting the food chain with the red fox spreading northwards and competing with the Arctic fox.
• The arctic region is now warming twice as fast as the global average due to a phenomenon called Arctic amplification.
Climate change and Alpine eco-systems:
Alpine eco-systems are predicted to experience significant change as the climate warms; a rise in temperature by 1 degree Celsius pushes the tree line 100 metres higher.
Other possible impacts include:
• Continuously retreating glaciers which may lead to increased frequencies of glacial outburst floods as a result of the extensive melting during summer months.
• The closure of ski resorts at lower altitudes with research suggesting that by 2050 only resorts at 1500 metres and above will be able to offer skiing throughout the winter.
• Increasing melting of permafrost, which threatens rock avalanches and mudslides. With permafrost covering 5% of Switzerland.
Research has suggested that a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius could cost Switzerland about £2billion a year as a result of the direct impact upon winter tourism and the need to enforce measures to deal with increased flooding and other natural disasters that are linked to climate change.