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The social and economic impacts/effects that a glacial retreat has on the environment.

Updated on November 24, 2014

In this hub i am going to be writing about the effects/impacts that a glacial retreat has on tourism, the environment as well as what other social impacts it may have on the people who are living in an area where a glacial retreat is occurring.

As well as advancing down the sides of mountains glaciers can also retreat back up the sides of mountains leaving behind huge scars within the landscape from which they once bull dosed and eroded there way through. Within the past century it is said that scientists believe that the Earth as a whole has heated up by 1 whole degree centigrade. This has lead to the huge argument over global warming and whether it being a myth or an actual fact. It is true that the Earth has warmed up in some places and we know this because of the movement of glaciers, the picture on the left is a visual representation of the movement of one particular glacier in the last 55 years. As you can see the glacier has moved backwards (retreated) rather than forwards (advancing) meaning that this has had huge impacts on both the environment and the tourist industry in some parts of the world.

A picture of a snow cannon being used in Chamonix (France) to create snow to combat against unreliable snowfall.
A picture of a snow cannon being used in Chamonix (France) to create snow to combat against unreliable snowfall.

Effects on tourism and Social impacts

A Glacial retreat means that ice will no longer be available for winter sports and games such as ice trekking/climbing, or sightseeing of glaciers. A direct result of this means that there will be less tourists wanting to visit the area and therefore meaning that locals who live near the glacier may miss out on extra income from tourism. Other factors are unreliable snowfall, unreliable snowfall will result in there not being enough snow for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. This will also mean that fewer tourists will visit the area and yet again locals will be missing out on that extra income that comes from tourism. Locals in the area that rely on tourism such as gift shops, hotels, ski instructors and guiding companies will see fewer tourists meaning they will be making less money which will therefore leading into allot of them going out of business. A sharp increase of unemployment would arise in these areas and locals may be forced to move away to look for work in more residential areas.

A photograph of  a rock-slide that occurred in the French Alps.
A photograph of a rock-slide that occurred in the French Alps.

Environmental Effects

The effects that a glacial retreat has on the environment are huge, this is because glacial retreats see a rise in natural hazards occurring such as: flooding, rock-slides and avalanches. Melt-water from the glacier makes flooding occur and this is why sometimes lakes/corries can be found at the bottom and in the middle of mountain ranges. Another effect that the melt water has is that if it has nowhere to go the water can be evaporated back into the air and then contributing to rising sea levels as it comes down as rain. Rising sea and water levels will also have an effect on erosion of coastal towns and habitats. Rising sea levels will affect islands such as the Maldives as these islands are at a very high risk of being flooded due to the fact that they are only just above sea level. Avalanches and rock-slides can both disrupt natural wildlife and also destroy their habitats.

I hope you found this article helpful and interesting, if you did i would love to hear what your views are in the comment box below and i would also be very grateful if you left me some feedback via the feedback action buttons located just below Thanks!!!:)


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    • profile image

      Geography student 

      3 months ago

      Great answers to GCSE Question Practise. Thanks

    • profile image

      Geography pupil 

      4 years ago

      Thanks! Great homework help and also pretty interesting!

    • profile image

      kid who waits last minute to do project 

      5 years ago

      saves time on research

    • profile image

      Geography Student 

      6 years ago

      This is a perfect page thank you so much you saved me hours of research

    • Anil and Honey profile image


      8 years ago from Kerala

      We are Victims of social and natural impacts. so this hub is very suitable and helpful. I suggests to all to read it, for helping new Generation.


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