About Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison is a geomorphologist, specialising in landscape responses to climate change, at Exeter University and Oxford University. He has worked in the mountains of central Asia, Patagonia, central Europe and northern Scandinavia on climate change issues.
Articles by Stephan Harrison
The consequences of climate change are making themselves felt in the public consciousness in dramatic ways. In Europe, the floods of 2002 and the heatwave of 2003 that killed at least 20,000 people are just two recent examples. But climate change has the potential to affect human society in subtler and less visible ways that can have the effect of destabilising economies and unsettling political relationships. This point is well illustrated by focusing on the evidence for recent climate change, and its likely future effects, in central Asia.
One of the anticipated outcomes of global warming is the reduction of mountain ice cover and permafrost now underway in almost all mountain regions. In much of central Asia, glaciers and ice-rich permafrost serve as water towers by providing a continuous supply of fresh water to the lowlands and thereby allowing economic activity to take place. Their recession over the past few decades in response to global climate change is striking.