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Development of the morphodynamics on Little Ice Age lateral moraines in 10 glacier forefields of the Eastern Alps since the 1950s


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Betz-Nutz, Sarah ; Heckmann, Tobias ; Haas, Florian ; Becht, Michael:
Development of the morphodynamics on Little Ice Age lateral moraines in 10 glacier forefields of the Eastern Alps since the 1950s.
In: Earth surface dynamics. 11 (2023) 2. - S. 203-226.
ISSN 2196-6311


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Since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA) in the middle of the 19th century, Alpine glaciers have been subject to severe recession that is enhanced by the recent global warming. The melting glaciers expose large areas with loose sediments in the form of lateral moraines, amongst other forms. Due to their instability and high slope angle, the lateral moraines are reworked by geomorphological processes such as debris flows, slides, or fluvial erosion. In this study, the development of the morphodynamics and changes in geomorphological processes on lateral moraines were observed over decades, based on a selection of 10 glacier forefields in the Eastern Alps. To identify geomorphological changes over time, several datasets of archival aerial images reaching back to the 1950s were utilized in order to generate digital elevation models (DEMs) and DEMs of difference. The aerial images were complemented by recent drone images for selected moraine sections, enabling a high-resolution analysis of the processes currently occurring. The results concerning the development of morphodynamics on lateral moraine sections are diverse: some slopes display a stagnation of the erosion rates, whereas the rates of one section increase significantly; however, the majority of the slopes show a decline in morphodynamics over decades but stay on a high level in many cases. In particular, moraine sections with high morphodynamics at the beginning of the observation period mostly show high erosion rates up until present-day measurements, with values up to 11 cm yr−1. These moraine sections also feature heavy gullying on their upper slopes. A correlation between the development of morphodynamics and the time since deglaciation could scarcely be established. In fact, the results instead indicate that characteristics of the lateral moraines such as the initial slope angle at the time of deglaciation have a significant influence on the later morphodynamics. These observations raise concerns as to whether the until now often conducted analyses based on the comparison of lateral moraine sections with different distances to the glacier terminus, assumed to represent varying time spans since deglaciation, can provide sound evidence concerning the process of stabilization.

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Sprache des Eintrags:Englisch
Institutionen der Universität:Mathematisch-Geographische Fakultät > Geographie > Lehrstuhl für Physische Geographie
DOI / URN / ID:10.5194/esurf-11-203-2023
Open Access: Freie Zugänglichkeit des Volltexts?:Ja (Förderung durch DFG-Mittel)
Verlag:Copernicus Publ.
Die Zeitschrift ist nachgewiesen in:
Titel an der KU entstanden:Ja
Eingestellt am: 27. Mär 2023 10:24
Letzte Änderung: 19. Jun 2024 08:46
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