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The concept of cryo-conditioning in landscape evolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Ivar Berthling*
Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
Bernd Etzelmüller
Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway
Corresponding author. Department of Geography, NTNU, N-7491, Norway. Fax: +47 73591878.


Recent accounts suggest that periglacial processes are unimportant for large-scale landscape evolution and that true large-scale periglacial landscapes are rare or non-existent. The lack of a large-scale topographical fingerprint due to periglacial processes may be considered of little relevance, as linear process–landscape development relationships rarely can be substantiated. Instead, periglacial landscapes may be classified in terms of specific landform associations. We propose “cryo-conditioning”, defined as the interaction of cryotic surface and subsurface thermal regimes and geomorphic processes, as an overarching concept linking landform and landscape evolution in cold regions. By focusing on the controls on processes, this concept circumvents scaling problems in interpreting long-term landscape evolution derived from short-term processes. It also contributes to an unambiguous conceptualization of periglacial geomorphology. We propose that the development of several key elements in the Norwegian geomorphic landscape can be explained in terms of cryo-conditioning.

Research Article
University of Washington

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