Original paper

Quaternary glacial and periglacial processes in the Ethiopian Highlands in relation to the current afro-alpine vegetation

Hendrickx, H.; Jacob, M.; Frankl, A.; Guyassa, Etefa; Nyssen, J.


The highlands of Ethiopia show a great variety in present and past climate. The environments differ in altitude, latitude and local conditions. This has an influence on vegetation and geomorphologic processes. Present knowledge of past glacial and periglacial landforms concentrates around the highest mountain ranges of Ethiopia, the Semien Mountains, the Bale Mountains and the Arsi Mountains. Many intermediate mountains stay unexplored or just briefly discussed. No present glaciated mountains exist in Ethiopia but current periglacial processes occur on the highest peaks. The climate change sensitivity of the mountain environment can be assessed which can contribute to the study of the temperature sensitive treeline and land cover changes. Afro-alpine vegetation can be influenced by the presence of relict (peri)glacial landforms, which change the growing conditions by different soil properties. Further research will need to complement the existing observations by unexplored mountains and to establish altitudinal north-south trajects in Ethiopia regarding vegetation, geomorphological processes and landforms.


quaternary environment(peri)glacial landformsafro-alpine vegetationethiopian highlands