Global warming is likely responsible for the giant landslide which carved 10 metres off the top of Mt Cook in 1991, according to a Swiss study looking into slope failures across the world.
The landslide followed patterns seen elsewhere in the world, and such slope failures have become more frequent in the last few decades.
An excerpt: (read in full here)
“A special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A today, investigating the thrust of climate change on geological hazards, reported that snowy and icy slopes have been failing more frequently over the past couple of decades.
“An international team of researchers led by Christian Huggel from the University of Zurich analysed weather patterns in the days and weeks before slope failures on three continents, and found that all the avalanches followed unusually warm periods that ended with sudden temperature drops.
“The rock and ice which detached from the eastern face of Mt Cook and scoured the surface as it travelled 7.5km followed such a pattern, the researchers said.”