Due to the high elevation, steep relief, debris covered
slopes and intense frost action, alpine landscapes are characterized by
the widespread occurrence of mass movements such as. rock falls, landslides,
debris flows, solifluction and permafrost creep. Theses processes strongly
influence soil development, vegetation patterns and the life of human
beings and animals (natural hazards). Alpine soils are highly variable
and have different characteristics compared to lowland soils. Beside being
influenced by climatic factors and their variation with altitude, soils
depend very much on the relief and the characteristics of the parent material.
These materials are not only related to geology, but also to landscape
history and geomorphology. Future climate change will have severe consequences
on these landscape dynamics and soil development.