Joanne Wood
PhD student


Research projects

Future climate change has the potential to destabilise mountain landscapes in a number of ways, with two of the most important triggers being glacier retreat and the melting of permafrost.  Rockfalls, glacial lake outburst floods and large-scale debris flow events are associated with glacier and permafrost melting, with resulting implications for infrastructure, tourism, planning policy and risk management.

There is evidence of clustering of mega-landslides from many Alpine regions in the period following the Last Glacial Maximum and since the Little Ice Age of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which can be attributed to glacier recession and climate change. Several of these landslides had runouts in excess of 5km and similar future events would destroy towns like Chamonix and Zermatt.

Despite this, the frequency and magnitude of such hazardous processes has not been well-established in many economically developed mountainous regions of the world and the risk management implications of this have not been fully calculated. I will be creating a data set from the European Alps to reconstruct periods of past landscape instability and use this as a guide to the future evolution of these regions. This project will help regional planners and the insurance industry to assess the landscape response to climate change in such regions and develop more sophisticated risk models than has been possible so far while providing them with a methodology to use such information in future pricing of risk.


J.L. Wood, S. Harrison, L. Reinhardt, Landslide inventories for climate impacts research in the European Alps, Geomorphology, Available online 16 September 2014, ISSN 0169-555X,

Wood, J.L., Harrison, S.H., Reinhardt, L. and Turkington, T.A.R. (2013).  Mass Movement Inventories for Climate Research in the European Alps.  Poster at: AGU Fall Meeting 2013, 9-13 December 2013, San Fransisco, United States of America, NH21A-1508.

Back | Top of page | Refresh page