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Permafrost in steep bedrock slopes and its temperature-related destabilization following climate change


Gruber, S; Haeberli, W (2007). Permafrost in steep bedrock slopes and its temperature-related destabilization following climate change. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112:F02S18.

Abstract

Permafrost in steep bedrock is abundant in many cold-mountain areas, and its degradation can cause slope instability that is unexpected and unprecedented in location, magnitude, frequency, and timing. These phenomena bear consequences for the understanding of landscape evolution, natural hazards, and the safe and sustainable
operation of high-mountain infrastructure. Permafrost in steep bedrock is an emerging field of research. Knowledge of rock temperatures, ice content, mechanisms of degradation, and the processes that link warming and destabilization is often fragmental.
In this article we provide a review and discussion of existing literature and pinpoint important questions. Ice-filled joints are common in bedrock permafrost and possibly actively widened by ice segregation. Broad evidence of destabilization by warming permafrost exists despite problems of attributing individual events to this phenomenon
with certainty. Convex topography such as ridges, spurs, and peaks is often subject to faster and deeper thaw than other areas. Permafrost degradation in steep bedrock can be
strongly affected by percolating water in fractures. This degradation by advection is difficult to predict and can lead to quick and deepdevelopment of thaw corridors along
fractures in permafrost and potentially destabilize much greater volumes of rock than conduction would. Although most research on steep bedrock permafrost originates from the Alps, it will likely gain importance in other geographic regions with mountain permafrost.

Permafrost in steep bedrock is abundant in many cold-mountain areas, and its degradation can cause slope instability that is unexpected and unprecedented in location, magnitude, frequency, and timing. These phenomena bear consequences for the understanding of landscape evolution, natural hazards, and the safe and sustainable
operation of high-mountain infrastructure. Permafrost in steep bedrock is an emerging field of research. Knowledge of rock temperatures, ice content, mechanisms of degradation, and the processes that link warming and destabilization is often fragmental.
In this article we provide a review and discussion of existing literature and pinpoint important questions. Ice-filled joints are common in bedrock permafrost and possibly actively widened by ice segregation. Broad evidence of destabilization by warming permafrost exists despite problems of attributing individual events to this phenomenon
with certainty. Convex topography such as ridges, spurs, and peaks is often subject to faster and deeper thaw than other areas. Permafrost degradation in steep bedrock can be
strongly affected by percolating water in fractures. This degradation by advection is difficult to predict and can lead to quick and deepdevelopment of thaw corridors along
fractures in permafrost and potentially destabilize much greater volumes of rock than conduction would. Although most research on steep bedrock permafrost originates from the Alps, it will likely gain importance in other geographic regions with mountain permafrost.

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127 citations in Web of Science®
188 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:26 Mar 2009 06:26
Last Modified:02 Jun 2016 07:09
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN:0148-0227
Publisher DOI:10.1029/2006JF000547
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-3936

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