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Climate and Landslides in the Swiss Alps
Dapples, F., Oswald, D., Raetzo, H., Lardelli, T. and Zwahlen, P.  2003.  New records of Holocene landslide activity in the Western and Eastern Swiss Alps: Implication of climate and vegetation changes.  Eclogae geologicae Helvetiae 96: 1-9.

What was done
The authors developed a new chronology of Holocene landslide events in the Eastern and Western Swiss Alps.

What was learned
The three most recent and best documented periods of landslide activity were determined to be 3500-2100, 1700-1150 and 750-300 years before present.  The authors report that these periods "can be related to a significant deterioration of the climatic conditions," which they say are associated "with periods of more cold and humid conditions."  In this regard, we note that these intervals of heightened landslide activity were largely coeval, in reverse order, with the Little Ice Age, the Dark Ages Cold Period, and the unnamed cold period that preceded the Roman Warm Period.

What it means
In the words of the authors, "the relationship between landslides and climate, namely more cold and humid conditions, has been known and described long ago, and is once again evidenced in this paper."  In addition, their latest findings serve to strengthen the now-voluminous real-world evidence for the millennial-scale cycling of climate that has most recently ushered in the Modern Warm Period and its welcome respite from the "slip-sliding away" Swiss slopes of the Little Ice Age.

Reviewed 29 October 2003