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Abstract

The wide range of periglacial environments of the Antarctic, from the wet, mild oceanic sub-Antarctic through to the cold, dry continent, provides not only an extensive modern laboratory, but also one that offers insights into conditions in the Northern Hemisphere at the height of the last glacial, is an analogue for periglacial conditions on other planets, and can be used for monitoring climatic change. Almost the whole known suite of periglacial landforms is present. Recent research directions show strong linkages between the biotic components and the abiotic responses, offering new insights into periglacial synergies and hence landform development. Other new directions are those of using the Antarctic as an analogue for periglacial conditions on Mars, and multinational undertakings monitoring permafrost and active layer changes. During the past three decades there have been a number of reviews of periglacial landforms and processes for both the area as a whole as well as for specific locations or regions. Here information regarding material post-dating the most recent reviews is provided and an attempt is made to highlight new directions and findings. This broad-based review provides a foundation for more detailed accounts on some of the periglacial attributes provided in other papers within these volumes.

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