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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-62164

Egli, M; Wernli, M; Kneisel, C; Haeberli, W (2006). Melting glaciers and soil development in the proglacial area Morteratsch (Swiss Alps): I. Soil type chronosequence. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 38(4):499-509.

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Proglacial areas in the Alps usually cover a time span of deglaciation of about 150 years (time since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the 1850s). In these proglacial areas soils have started to develop. In view of the foreseeable climate change, the time factor is of growing interest with respect to the landscape and consequently the soil development. We investigated soil changes (primarily on the basis of soil types) in the proglacial area Morteratsch (Swiss Alps) to derive time trends that can be used as a basis for spatial modeling. Differences in the soil development could be primarily interpreted in view of the time scale and topography (landscape shape, slope, aspect). Data was managed with GIS and regression analyses. Input data sets were the digital soil map, the glacial states, and the digital elevation model. The calculations were done raster based (GRID, 20 m resolution). After about 20 years the first signs of soil development could be found. Around 25% of the area of the valley floor is covered with weakly developed Skeletic/Lithic Leptosol after about 30 years of deglaciation. One hundred years of soil development led to a strong decrease of the Skeletic/Lithic Leptosol in favor of the Humi-Skeletic Leptosol and Ranker. Fluvisols and Cambisols play a subordinate role also after 100-150 years. Undisturbed and fast soil evolution was measured in flat positions and on slopes up to about 14°. In general, the various landforms also correlated well with soil evolution. One of the most surprising facts was that the weathering between southand north-facing sites differed distinctly, with the north-facing sites having the higher weathering rates. Soil moisture seems to be a decisive factor in weathering. Thicker snow packs probably inhibit or reduce soil frost and allow larger fluxes of snowmelt water to infiltrate into already moist profiles. Slope, exposure and to a lesser extent also the landform determined the soil development: these influences could be quantified using regression analyses. These analyses serve as a basis for further spatio-temporal modeling.


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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
Date:November 2006
Deposited On:20 Jul 2012 23:11
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:48
Publisher:University of Colorado, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research
Publisher DOI:10.1657/1523-0430(2006)38[499:MGASDI]2.0.CO;2

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