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Tracking past permafrost in the Alps

Numerous cave sites in Switzerland, Austria and Italy were systematically investigated to locate new occurrences of cryogenic cave carbonates (CCCs). These tiny crystals made of calcite form when water freezes in a cold cave environment and, thus, offer a unique opportunity to date and reconstruct past changes in the distribution of Alpine permafrost. Our results allow, in particular, to better assess the impact of extreme precipitations events on the permeability of periglacial karst systems.