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Modelling and characterizing glacier-bed overdeepenings as sites for potential future lakes in the deglaciating French Alps


Cathala, Maeva; Magnin, Florence; Linsbauer, Andreas; Haeberli, Wilfried (2021). Modelling and characterizing glacier-bed overdeepenings as sites for potential future lakes in the deglaciating French Alps. Geomorphologie, 27(1):19-36.

Abstract

Glacier retreat results in major landscape changes including the formation of new lakes in Glacier-Bed Overdeepenings (GBOs) that can provoke catastrophic Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) hazards, but could also provide economic opportunities. This study aims to identify and characterize the location of potential GBOs in the French Alps as possible sites for future lakes. We first ran GlabTop (Glacier-bed Topography) and GlabTop2 models, two GIS schemes calculating glacier ice thickness and mapping potential GBOs. Their level of confidence is estimated using morphological analysis based on slope angle, crevasse fields and lateral narrowing at bedrock thresholds. 139 GBOs (>0.01km²) were predicted among which 59 have medium to very high confidence. 20 lakes are already forming at the snout of retreating glaciers, including four lakes at predicted GBOs <0,01km². The Vanoise massif hosts 43% of the predicted GBOs but the Mont Blanc massif gathers larger, deeper and more voluminous ones. Most of the predicted GBOs are below 3,500m a.s.l. as related to the elevation of the corresponding glaciers. In the Vanoise massif, many predicted GBOs have rather low confidence because of the extent of ice-cap like glaciers for which the shear stress approach used by GlabTop becomes questionable. Furthermore, 58 potential GBOs were detected by visual analysis of glacier morphologies. The study highlights the relevance of combining various methods to determine GBOs and is a first step towards the anticipation of future risks and opportunities related to the formation of new lakes in the French Alps.

Abstract

Glacier retreat results in major landscape changes including the formation of new lakes in Glacier-Bed Overdeepenings (GBOs) that can provoke catastrophic Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) hazards, but could also provide economic opportunities. This study aims to identify and characterize the location of potential GBOs in the French Alps as possible sites for future lakes. We first ran GlabTop (Glacier-bed Topography) and GlabTop2 models, two GIS schemes calculating glacier ice thickness and mapping potential GBOs. Their level of confidence is estimated using morphological analysis based on slope angle, crevasse fields and lateral narrowing at bedrock thresholds. 139 GBOs (>0.01km²) were predicted among which 59 have medium to very high confidence. 20 lakes are already forming at the snout of retreating glaciers, including four lakes at predicted GBOs <0,01km². The Vanoise massif hosts 43% of the predicted GBOs but the Mont Blanc massif gathers larger, deeper and more voluminous ones. Most of the predicted GBOs are below 3,500m a.s.l. as related to the elevation of the corresponding glaciers. In the Vanoise massif, many predicted GBOs have rather low confidence because of the extent of ice-cap like glaciers for which the shear stress approach used by GlabTop becomes questionable. Furthermore, 58 potential GBOs were detected by visual analysis of glacier morphologies. The study highlights the relevance of combining various methods to determine GBOs and is a first step towards the anticipation of future risks and opportunities related to the formation of new lakes in the French Alps.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Earth-Surface Processes
Language:English
Date:30 April 2021
Deposited On:06 May 2021 10:49
Last Modified:25 Jun 2024 01:39
Publisher:Universite de Clermont-Ferrand II (Blaise Pascal) * Departement de Geologie
ISSN:1957-777X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.4000/geomorphologie.15255