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Coasts under Climate Change in Kongsfjorden (C3)

The objective of the research project is to understand the coastal dynamic of different systems (unconsolidated and consolidated cliffs, low-coasts) that are subject to global changes in the Kongsfjorden seacoast located on the Northern bank of Brøgger peninsula.

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Project date

Starts
2016-07-01

Ends
2018-08-31

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Project type

  • field work

Discipline

  • geology
  • oceanography

Project Keywords

  • solid earth / geomorphic landforms/processes / coastal landforms
  • solid earth / geomorphic landforms/processes / coastal processes

Fieldwork information

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Type Period From To Coordinates Station Location
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Summary

Unlike mid-to-low latitudes' seacoasts, very little is known about the potential impact of global changes on seacoasts located in the polar regions, although they represent one third of global seacoasts (Byrne and Dionne, 2002). Only 1% of Arctic coastlines were sufficiently studies in detail in order to describe the processes in place (Lantuit et al., 2010). Svalbard offers an exceptional opportunity for measuring Arctic seacoast responses to global warming that is more noticeable on the switch from periglacial system to paraglacial system. Runoff induced by glacial retreat, rising temperatures and rainfall, melting permafrost and the reduction of glacial conditions, have a controlling impact on polar landscapes (Mercier, 1988; Strzelecki, 2012). Several studies have been dedicated to evaluate global changes on Spitsbergen seacoasts (low unconsolidated coasts) (Mercier, 1988; and Hequette Ruz, 1989; Ruz, 1992), very few studies have been focused on cliff-coasts, especially using modern geomorphological methods (Strzelecki, 2012). The objective of the research project is to understand the coastal dynamic of different systems (unconsolidated and consolidated cliffs, low-coasts) that are subject to global changes in the Kongsfjorden seacoast located on the Northern bank of Brøgger peninsula. -(1) evaluate the changes on the coastal system in terms of shoreline dynamic and sedimentary transits; -(2) outline major vulnerabilities that the coastal system undergoes under marine and terrestrial erosion impacts; The identification of the processes of coastal erosion and coastal sediment transit may allow us to characterize the major environmental forcings on different seacoasts. The study site has been for several reasons: - the North bank of the Brogger peninsula is characterized by several coastal systems in a restricted area. Thus, we have unconsolidated cliffs, consolidated cliffs and low seacoasts. - the Kongdfjord is of importance for international scientific researches on the Arctic. A multidisciplinary knowledge is already available on this site. Although many researches are focused on marine and terrestrial environments, sea coasts, as a continuum zone between both environments have had very little interest (Strzelecki, 2012). - the Spitsbergen is currently undergoing major climate change: Transition from periglacial to paraglacial system. Continental runoff controls the landscape, including seacoasts. The impacts of global warming are well imprinted in the region. - human occupation in the region is unimportant reducing thus the anthropogenic impacts and allowing a better discernment of natural forcing on the system. The results would then allow the comparison with regions subject to high anthropogenic impacts located on high and mid-latitudes seacoasts.

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