The Glacial Landscapes of the Iberian Peninsula within the Mediterranean region

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Mediterranean mountains were glaciated on multiple occasions during the Pleistocene, including those from North Africa, through the peninsulas of southern Europe to Anatolia. These glaciers have shaped the mountains and left a clear impression on the landscape. Glaciers not only shape the areas directly affected by glaciation but also have an impact on rivers downstream and flora and fauna of the piedmonts. Today few glaciers survive in the Mediterranean mountains, although perennial ice and snowpatches and small niche glaciers are present (or were recently present), including in Iberia. Today, heavy winter snowfall and subsequent spring and summer snowmelt forms an important component of water supply in all the Mediterranean mountains where intense summer heat and aridity defines the region’s climate. Glaciers naturally have a close relationship with climate and evidence of past glaciation provides insight into past climates in the region. Iberia is located at a strategic position for understanding climate change since the peninsula is situated between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It was also the cross-roads of floral and faunal migration, including humans, during the Pleistocene ice ages. The glacial record of Iberia therefore provides and important and powerful legacy of the relatively recent ice age (in geological timescales). This introduction reviews the history of glaciation in the Mediterranean mountains and highlights the significance of the mountains of Iberia within the context of the wider Mediterranean and global glacial history.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIberia, Land of Glaciers
Subtitle of host publicationHow Glaciers Were Shaped
EditorsMarc Oliva, David Palacios, Jose Fernandez
PublisherElsevier BV
ISBN (Print)9780128219416
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


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