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Cryo-Sensors - Impact of Global Warming on Polar Arctic Cryosphere : Loven East Glacier Basin, 79°N, Spitsbergen (Cryo-Sensors )

Arctic and sub-arctic regions are very reactive to climatic changes. Because of the significant air-temperature increase (+2°C over 40 years, or +0.5 °C/decade) and the increased liquid precipitations (an additional few tens of mm/decade), the continental cryosphere (permafrost, glacier, snow) is significantly affected and exhibits a reduction most

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Project date

Starts
2010-11-01

Ends
2014-11-30

Project status

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Project type

  • field work
  • long-term monitoring

Discipline

  • cryosphere

Project Keywords

  • cryosphere / glaciers/ice sheets / ablation zones/accumulation zones
  • cryosphere / frozen ground / soil temperature
  • cryosphere / glaciers/ice sheets / glacier mass balance/ice sheet mass balance
  • cryosphere / frozen ground / permafrost
  • cryosphere / snow/ice / snow cover
  • cryosphere / sea ice / snow depth
  • cryosphere / glaciers/ice sheets / glacier thickness/ice sheet thickness
  • cryosphere / snow/ice / snow water equivalent
  • cryosphere / frozen ground / active layer

Fieldwork information

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Summary

Arctic and sub-arctic regions are very reactive to climatic changes. Because of the significant air-temperature increase (+2°C over 40 years, or +0.5 °C/decade) and the increased liquid precipitations (an additional few tens of mm/decade), the continental cryosphere (permafrost, glacier, snow) is significantly affected and exhibits a reduction most significantly visible at higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere. As a consequence, the whole water cycle - cryosphere and hydrosphere- is affected by these changes, inducing an increase in volume and temperature of the water flowing from the land to the Arctic Ocean, significantly affecting the polar coast area. The Cryo-Sensors project focuses on studying from an interdisciplinary perspective (geography, physics, remote sensing, engineering, hydro(geo)logy, geochemistry, geophysics) the impact of climatic change on various components of the cryosphere (permafrost, ice, snow) at the scale of a basin of a Arctic glacier (East Loven glacier, Western Spitsbergen, 79°N). Various observations performed in Kings Bay over the last 40 years provide a reference frame and an accurate knowledge at different spatial and time scales of the arctic environment and its dynamics evolution. In this region, the Brøgger peninsula provides a variety of glacier basins with continuous permafrost basement. Among these systems, the East Loven glacier basin (Austre Lovénbreen) , extending on an area of 10 km2, has been selected as the Cryo-Sensors observatory site. All three components studied (snow, glacier and permafrost) interact within a glacier basin and present dynamics at different time scales (hourly to multi-annual) and space scales (scale of tens of cm to the system). The study of these compartments is thus complex, especially in polar regions, and requires the implementation of several methods and the development of field instrumentation for long term monitoring. The originality of the project lies in its interdisciplinary approach (physical geography, geology, geomatics and engineering), all interacting within each proposed major tasks: 1 - Monitoring of meteorological, hydrological and glaciological parameters, 2 - Dynamics of permafrost and active layer 3 - Dynamics of the snowpack (slope, glacier) 4 - Study of water circulation (englacial onglacial and subglacial drainage network). Various instrumental innovations are implied: thermal sensors, autonomous and remote (for monitoring the temperature of the ice of the glacier and permafrost, temperature monitoring of water) and automatic photo stations (3 photos / day). The polar conditions constitute one of the challenges to obtain continuous measurements, representative and reliable. While understanding the reaction of glaciers to global warming was the topic of the previous program, the Cryo-Sensors program will be based on the knowledge gathered during the 4-years of the Sensor-FlOWS ANR program (2006-2010) and, while following up the long term data acquisition of glacier and hydrologic mass balances, will address new themes concerning outstanding issues: reactivity of the permafrost, water circulation inside the glacier and in permafrost, snowpack dynamics over the whole basin.

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