Ground temperatures, landforms and processes in an Atlantic mountain. Cantabrian Mountains (Northern Spain)

A. Pisabarro, R. Pellitero, E. Serrano, M. Gómez-Lende, J. J. Gonzalez-Trueba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Ground temperatures determine significant geomorphological processes in a wet and temperate mountain with a narrow high elevation range belt. Twenty five temperature data loggers were buried at a shallow depth in different locations and altitudes and at specifically cold locations at two massifs in the Cantabrian Mountains (North Spain), Picos de Europa and Fuentes Carrionas. This paper analyses the ground thermal regime and associated parameters (e.g. freeze index, duration and depth of freeze, freeze and thaw cycles) and correlates them with active geomorphological processes and landforms. The thermal regime varies in accordance to the topoclimatic conditions, and it was possible to determinate annual phases in function of snow cover behaviour. Main active processes and landforms stop their activity with a large snow cover which thermally protects the ground and in consequence, avoids the freeze and thaw cycles. During this period, the records allow to asseverate the evidence of seasonal freeze grounds in several locations. Permafrost was not discover on the ground at any of the thermometers except one located at the vicinity of a relict ice patch. With the help of geomorphological maps and previous works, we got to establish the relation between geomorphological processes, landforms, snow cover and ground thermal regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623–636
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Early online date11 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • ground thermal regime
  • temperate high mountain
  • snow cover
  • geomorphology
  • Cantabrian Mountains


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