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Aeolian and niveoaeolian accumulation in periglacial and glacial environments in central Spitsbergen (Ebba Valley)

Provided for this scientific investigation tasks are designed to verify hypotheses concerning the role of niveo-aeolian and aeolian processes in periglacial and glacial environments. Attention is focused on the accumulation of the wind transported material.

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Project date

Starts
2015-07-20

Ends
2018-07-19

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Project type

  • field work
  • modelling
  • long-term monitoring

Discipline

  • cryosphere
  • geology

Project Keywords

  • land surface / geomorphology / eolian landforms/processes
  • cryosphere / glaciers/ice sheets / ablation zones/accumulation zones
  • land surface / landscape / landscape processes
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Fieldwork information

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Summary

The most important aim of this project is to calculate the value of mineral material supply to the surface as a result of niveoaeolian and aeolian processes and to specify the role of these processes in morphogenesis of the areas characterised by dry polar climate variation. These problems have not been yet clearly resolved in the literature. Measurements will be conducted at selected sites localised in the Ebba Valley. This partly glaciers covered valley is located in the northern end of Billefjorden, next to the Petunia Gulf (Petuniabukta). Test sites will represent the different environments of polar geoecosystem: the surface of old raised marine terraces with tundra vegetation, the sandur area of Ebba river, solifluction slopes and alluvial cones, frontal moraines of Ebba glacier, as well as the area of itself. This studies will be associated with meteorological measurements and with modeling using Geographic Information System. Another objective is the detailed analysis of the collected material to determine its main characteristics, so its grain size composition, petrography and grain morphology. Will be taken also an attempt to define age and the rate of accumulation of niveoaeolian and aeolian covers which are present in the analysed area, as well as to determine the rate of degradation of existing forms and covers (mineral material redeposition by wind and sheet wash in summer period). Extremely important is verification of the hypothesis that the role of niveo-aeolian processes is more important in the transformation of the environment than aeolian processes (what was previously assumed) and to check whether the particle surface, undergoing relatively short transportation in this area, will be characterized by typical features of aeolian material (e.g. matt of the quartz grains surface). Solution of the undertaken problem will improve understanding of the functioning of the polar geoecosystem. Niveo-aeolian and aeolian processes are one of the less recognised elements of this system. Previous studies within the Central Spitsbergen were limited to short-term, seasonal measurements of aeolian transportation or accumulation, observations of wind erosion effects on a relatively small area and litological analysis of aeolian covers fragments. The obtained results will contribute certainly to the development of knowledge about matter and energy circulation in glaciated valley. In particular, if they will be used in a comprehensive environmental analysis taking into account the data concerning climate and all geomorphological processes with particular emphasis on periglacial and glacial processes.

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