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Temporal variability of diverse mountain permafrost slope movements derived from multi-year daily GPS data, Mattertal, Switzerland


Wirz, Vanessa; Geertsema, Marten; Gruber, Stephan; Purves, Ross S (2016). Temporal variability of diverse mountain permafrost slope movements derived from multi-year daily GPS data, Mattertal, Switzerland. Landslides, 13(1):67-83.

Abstract

In this study, high resolution surface measurements of diverse slope movements are compared to environmental factors such as ground surface temperature (GST) and snow cover, in order to reveal and compare velocity fluctuations caused by changing environmental conditions. The data cover 2 years (2011–2013) of Global Positioning System (GPS) and GST measurements at 18 locations on various slope movement types within an alpine study site in permafrost (Mattertal, Switzerland). Velocities have been estimated based on accurate daily GPS solutions. The mean annual velocities (MAV) observed at all GPS stations varied between 0.006 and 6.3 ma−1. MAV were higher in the period 2013 compared to 2012 at all stations. The acceleration in 2013 was accompanied by a longer duration of the snow cover and zero curtain and slightly lower GST. The amplitude (0–600 %) and the timing of the intra-annual variability were generally similar in both periods. At most stations, an annual cycle in the movement signal was observed, with a phase lag of 1–4 months to GST. Maximum velocity typically occurred in late summer and autumn, and minimum velocity in late winter and beginning of spring. The onset of acceleration always started in spring during the snowmelt period. At two stations located on steep rock glacier tongues, overprinted on the annual cycle, short-term peaks of velocity increase, occurred during the snowmelt period, indicating a strong influence of meltwater.

Abstract

In this study, high resolution surface measurements of diverse slope movements are compared to environmental factors such as ground surface temperature (GST) and snow cover, in order to reveal and compare velocity fluctuations caused by changing environmental conditions. The data cover 2 years (2011–2013) of Global Positioning System (GPS) and GST measurements at 18 locations on various slope movement types within an alpine study site in permafrost (Mattertal, Switzerland). Velocities have been estimated based on accurate daily GPS solutions. The mean annual velocities (MAV) observed at all GPS stations varied between 0.006 and 6.3 ma−1. MAV were higher in the period 2013 compared to 2012 at all stations. The acceleration in 2013 was accompanied by a longer duration of the snow cover and zero curtain and slightly lower GST. The amplitude (0–600 %) and the timing of the intra-annual variability were generally similar in both periods. At most stations, an annual cycle in the movement signal was observed, with a phase lag of 1–4 months to GST. Maximum velocity typically occurred in late summer and autumn, and minimum velocity in late winter and beginning of spring. The onset of acceleration always started in spring during the snowmelt period. At two stations located on steep rock glacier tongues, overprinted on the annual cycle, short-term peaks of velocity increase, occurred during the snowmelt period, indicating a strong influence of meltwater.

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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:2016
Deposited On:16 Jan 2017 14:10
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 22:18
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1612-510X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-014-0544-3

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