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Evolution of the Kongsfjorden south coast shoreline (SONNY11)

This research is based on a succession of side scan surveys carried out in the Kongsfjorden area, northwest Spitsbergen, Svalbard (79°N 12°E). In this fjord, the glaciers (vestre, midre and autre Lovenbreen) have retreated more than one kilometre from their Little Ice Age limits, and glacial meltwater has extensively reworked glacigenic sediments

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Project date

Starts
2011-08-01

Ends
2011-08-30

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Project Keywords

  • cryosphere / frozen ground / periglacial processes
  • oceans / coastal processes / shorelines

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Summary

This research is based on a succession of side scan surveys carried out in the Kongsfjorden area, northwest Spitsbergen, Svalbard (79°N 12°E). In this fjord, the glaciers (vestre, midre and autre Lovenbreen) have retreated more than one kilometre from their Little Ice Age limits, and glacial meltwater has extensively reworked glacigenic sediments on exposed glacier forelands and deposit sedimentary lobes in subtidal areas. A combination of GIS, DEM, aerial photographic, satellites imagery and sonar data (acquired in August 2009) were employed to estimate glacial retreat, sandurs evolution, shoreline progradation and offshore deposits. Average shoreline progradation has been estimated from 1936 to 2009. The retreat of valley glaciers began in the early 20th century, but initial retreat was slow: 1936 aerial photographs depict glacier margins still close to Little Ice Age terminal moraines. Glacier retreat subsequently accelerated, indicating that the glaciers were out of equilibrium with the changing climate.Since 2009, the Lovenbreen glaciers stopped to retreat and begin to melt (thickness is decreasing rapidly).As the glaciers retreated, paraglacial reworking of glacigenic sediments by meltwater streams increased. According to the general model of paraglacial landscape response, this situation represents the onset of sediment reworking, when sediment availability and thus sediment fluxes reach their maximum.Thus, we need to follow this rapid evolution of the shoreline subsequent to the glacier depletion each year. A side scan survey combined to the shoreline mapping is planned to be realised next August 2011.

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