Scotland’s changing landscape

Colin K. Ballantyne*, Andrew R. Black, Rob Ferguson, John E. Gordon, James D. Hansom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Landscape changes in Scotland occur in an environment of relative tectonic and climatic stability but widespread human impact. However, climatic trends and projections suggest that gradual warming and loss of snowcover may in the future be accompanied by increases in winter wetness and extreme rainstorm events, particularly in western Scotland. Periodic flood events show no clear historical trend, but are responsible for channel changes in upland rivers, infrastructural damage and urban flooding; increased wetness and ground saturation may increase the frequency of such events. Active rock-slope instability is rare, but there is evidence of increasing debris-flow activity, which has been responsible for disruption of road and rail links. Coastal changes (mainly beach and dune erosion) reflect relative sea-level rise, diminution of offshore sediment supply and the effects of coastal protection structures causing localised erosion and beach steepening. Anthropogenic activity (urban expansion, infrastructure development, land-use change and mineral extraction) has had a major geomorphological and visual impact on the Scottish landscape, at worst resulting in geodiversity loss and landscape blight. Growing recognition of the benefits of geoconservation, however, may help preserve Scotland’s outstanding and varied landscapes and landforms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLandscapes and landforms of Scotland
EditorsColin K. Ballantyne, John E. Gordon
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030712464
ISBN (Print)9783030712457, 9783030712488
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021

Publication series

NameWorld geomorphological landscapes
ISSN (Print)2213-2090
ISSN (Electronic)2213-2104


  • Anthropogenic impacts
  • Climate change
  • Coastal erosion
  • Coasts
  • Debris flows
  • Floods
  • Geoconservation
  • Geodiversity
  • River channel changes
  • River regulation
  • Rock-slope stability
  • Snow avalanches


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