This book presents a comprehensive introduction to the processes that operate in present periglacial environments, and how this contributes to our understanding of former periglacial environments. It includes accounts not only of the nature of frozen ground and frost-action processes, but also of the operation of slope, fluvial, aeolian and coastal processes in cold environments. It is organized in six parts. Part 1 (chapters 1--2) introduces the historical and scientific context of periglacial geomorphology and the nature of periglacial environments. Part 2 (chapters 3-5) addresses the physics of ground freezing and thawing, the characteristics of permafrost and the nature and origin of underground ice. Part 3 (chapters 6-9) considers the characteristics, formation and significance of landforms, sediments and structures associated with permafrost, permafrost degradation and seasonal freezing and thawing of the ground. Part 4 (chapters 10-12) discusses rock weathering in periglacial environments, the periglacial processes operating on hillslopes and the distinctive landforms produced by rock breakdown and slope processes in cold environments. Part 5 (chapters 13-15) is devoted to the operation of fluvial, aeolian and coastal processes in present and past periglacial environments. The final part considers the employment of relict periglacial features to reconstruct past cold environments in midlatitude regions (chapter 16) and evaluates the response of periglacial environments to recent and predicted climate change (chapter 17).
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