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Visual perception of changes in a high mountain landscape: the case of the retreat of the Évettes Glacier (Haute-Maurienne, northern French Alps)

Abstract : This paper presents recent research into the visual perception of changes in a high mountain landscape, using the case study of the Évettes Glacier and its foreland. Glacial retreat throughout the French Alps due to climate changes since the Little Ice Age has resulted in the exposure of new land surfaces. Glaciers are the classic feature of high mountain landscapes, prized for their beauty by hikers and their recreation potential by mountaineers. Some high mountain places such as the Évettes glacial Cirque are visited particularly for the view of the glacier. But what about the view of the proglacial moraine landscapes ? These moraine environments are characterised by a wide diversity of geomorphologic forms, plant species richness and a complex history. The aim of this study is to find how well the moraine areas and features are known, how they are perceived and what is their attraction value for mountain tourists. Towards this goal, investigations were carried out during the summers of 2006 and 2007 around the Évettes Hut. Results show strong differences between hikers and mountaineers in their relation to the natural mountain landscape. Hikers and mountaineers participate in different activities in the mountains and have different lengths of stay, which affect their visual perception of the glacier foreland. Hikers primarily search for the beauty of the site, have poor knowledge of geomorphologic terms, and have some difficulties in seeing the glacial retreat in the landscape. Mountaineers turn out to know geomorphologic terms better, and have a global view of the glacier's retreat. Moraines seem to be less well known than other landscape units. The glacial retreat is viewed as a recent trend. The limited perception of landscape changes by tourists in the mountains opens up new possibilities for avenues of research, and ways of developing a sense of landscape patrimony amongst mountaineers and hikers.
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Journal articles
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00529982
Contributor : Myrtille Moreau <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 10:44:31 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 12:22:19 PM

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Myrtille Moreau. Visual perception of changes in a high mountain landscape: the case of the retreat of the Évettes Glacier (Haute-Maurienne, northern French Alps). Géomorphologie : relief, processus, environnement, Groupe français de géomorphologie (GFG), 2010, 2, pp.165-174. ⟨halshs-00529982⟩

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